ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Despite having not won a game in nearly a week, the Baltimore Orioles woke up in Florida on Friday morning somehow still in first place in the American League East standings.
But by the end of the night, their struggles would finally catch up with the tumbling Orioles, who lost for the ninth time in 11 games and found themselves out of first place for the first time in nearly a week after a 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay in front of an announced crowd of 17,224.
Baltimore (29-23) was shut out for the first time this season, managing just six hits. But a sputtering offense is just one part of Baltimore’s trouble. In the last five games, the starters have pitched to an 8.07 earned-run average.
Wei-Yin Chen was hammered early, giving up five runs in the first inning, including a two-run homer by Hideki Matsui, to give the Rays all the offense they would need.
And for the first time since May 5, the Orioles were not in first place in the AL East.
Tampa Bay (30-22) sent 10 batters to the plate against Chen in the first inning. He allowed five hits and issued two walks in the inning. Carlos Pena led off with a double and took third on a wild pitch. B.J. Upton’s grounder to short drew a throw home from J.J. Hardy to retire Pena, but the Orioles could not capitalize as the Rays tallied three consecutive singles from Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist and Luke Scott, with Scott’s hit driving in two runs.
Then Matsui took a Chen pitch down the right-field line for a two-run homer to make it 5-0.
Rays starter David Price held Baltimore hitless for the first 41 / 3 innings until Matt Wieters singled to right.
The Orioles had the bases loaded twice but could not score. They had a chance to break through in the sixth, loading the bases with one out, but came up empty.