Looking to build on a season-opening victory, the Orioles continue their series with the Rays on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.
Baltimore snapped a string of 14 consecutive losing seasons by winning 93 games and earning a wild-card spot in 2012, but the team is only focused on the present.
"Last season is over, and everybody in the clubhouse has moved on to this year," said catcher Matt Wieters , who went 2 for 3 with a two-run homer in a 7-4 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Adam Jones had a go-ahead, two-run double and Chris Davis hit a three-run shot in the Orioles' five-run seventh inning off reliever Jake McGee , who replaced reigning AL Cy Young Award winner David Price to start the frame.
"(Tuesday) starts a long journey together, and I'm curious as everybody else to see where it takes us," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
"The season wouldn't have ended if we lost (Tuesday), and it wouldn't end if we lose (Wednesday), or if we win. That's what I keep challenging our guys about. This is a great group for staying in the moment, staying in reality."
Showalter hands the ball to Wei-Yin Chen, who went 12-11 with a 4.02 ERA in 32 starts during an impressive 2012 rookie season. The left-hander battled through fatigue, posting a 5.34 ERA over his final 10 regular-season starts and going 0-4 in the last seven, but he allowed one earned run in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the division series.
"I feel stronger this year," Chen told the Orioles' official website during spring training. "I feel really good about the season."
Chen went 1-3 in five starts against the Rays but had a 2.97 ERA. His teammates scored four runs with him on the mound in those contests.
Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist hit .467 (7 for 15) with a home run against Chen.
Zobrist went 2 for 3 with a homer and two RBIs on Tuesday for the Rays, who have won at least 90 games in three straight seasons and four of five.
"I think we did a lot of really good things (Tuesday)," manager Joe Maddon said. "Our defense was fantastic. ... David getting through six innings without having his best stuff and coming out of the game at 100 pitches with a 3-2 lead. ... Those were nice things. They just got us in one inning."
Scheduled Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson was sixth in the AL last season with a 3.10 ERA, but he finished 10-11 despite going 4-0 through his first eight starts. A big reason for the sub-.500 record was his 3.86 average runs of support, third-worst in the league.
Hellickson, though, completed seven innings only six times in 31 starts.
"That's what I want him to learn how to do, get deeper into games, how to get deeper into games, how to utilize your pitches to do that," Maddon told the Rays' official website.
The right-hander went 2-2 with a 2.38 ERA in six starts against the Orioles in 2012.
Three of Jones' nine hits in 28 at-bats versus Hellickson have left the park. Davis, 5 for 15 against him, has homered in seven of his last eight regular-season games overall.
|March 26, 2013||Wilson Betemit||15-Day DL||Right PCL tear|
|March 23, 2013||Steve Johnson||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|March 22, 2013||Tsuyoshi Wada||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Chris Tillman||15-Day DL||Strained left abdominal|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|March 31, 2013||Juan Carlos Oviedo||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 24, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Rays kept swinging until they finally found a way to win.
Matt Joyce hit a towering homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning and the Rays twice came from behind before a wasting a late two-run lead in an 8-7 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.
Joyce began a rally from a 5-4 deficit with a pinch-hit bunt single in the seventh and won it after closer Fernando Rodney , one of the keys to the Dominican Republic's dominant run to the World Baseball Classic title, blew a save opportunity by allowing a run for the first time since last Aug. 18.
"You wouldn't think that would happen, but I guess they say everything happens for a reason," Joyce said of Rodney, who gave up a run for the first time in 20 appearances dating back to last season.
Rodney (1-0) also was on the mound for the final out in all eight of the Dominicans' victories in the WBC and did not allow a run.
"To get the first win out of the way, and to have it in dramatic fashion kind of seems to be the Rays way," Joyce said. "We're going to have fun this year."
Shelley Duncan hit a three-run homer and Ben Zobrist had a pair of RBI singles for Tampa Bay. Brian Roberts ' RBI double off Rodney in the ninth made it 7-all.
"It was entertaining for most people here. Didn't like the way it ended, but good things happened. We'll dwell on those," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Wei-Yin presented himself well. Chris Davis continues to swing the bat. ... I liked the way our guys kept fighting back."
Davis went 4 for 4 for the Orioles, hitting a three-run homer for the second straight day and driving in four runs. He also had an RBI single and two doubles.
Much to the delight of Rays manager Joe Maddon, the left-handed hitting Joyce bunted up the third base line to beat Baltimore's defensive shift in the seventh.
He won it leading off the ninth by pulling a pitch from Tommy Hunter (0-1) over the right-field wall.
"In that situation, I'm just trying to get on base and play the game," Joyce said of the bunt. "Joe always talks about playing the game and taking what they give you. And in that situation that's all I tried to do, just get on base and hopefully somebody would drive me in. If they're going to give you the opportunity, then go ahead and take it."
Duncan's first hit for his new team finished a four-run sixth that wiped out an early 4-0 deficit. The Orioles regained a one-run lead in the seventh, only to watch the Rays answer with three more runs to go ahead 7-5.
But Baltimore wasn't finished, scoring on Matt Wieters ' RBI single in the eighth and Roberts' tying double.
Pedro Strop , the second pitcher to follow Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen, was unable to hold the 5-4 lead Baltimore took on Nate McLouth 's run-scoring single in the seventh.
Joyce bunted for a single in the seventh and later scored on a wild pitch. Pinch hitter James Loney 's double off Strop put the Rays ahead, and Zobrist's second RBI single of the night made it 7-5.
"I was right there. I was making good pitches ... Balls were just able to find holes," Strop said.
Davis' homer came off Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson , landing in the mostly empty stands in left-center field. After drawing a sellout crowd of 34,078 on Tuesday, attendance was announced as 15,599 for the middle date of a three-game series.
The 27-year-old Chen won a team-leading 12 games as a rookie last season, the most wins by an Orioles pitcher since Erik Bedard won 13 in 2007.
Desmond Jennings , Evan Longoria and Jose Lobaton led off the first three innings against the left-hander with singles, but each of them was erased by double plays.
Down 4-0, Tampa Bay broke through in the sixth. Zobrist chased Chen with a two-out RBI single and Duncan's homer made it 4-all.
NOTES: The Orioles have scored 14 runs in two games, 13 of them with two outs. ... Dating to last season, Davis has four homers in his last five games against Tampa Bay. ... Rodney, who did not get into the opener, brought a scoreless streak of 19 innings over 19 appearances into the season. ... The 25-year-old Hellickson will receive the Gold Glove he won last season before Sunday's game against Cleveland. In being chosen a co-winner with Jake Peavy , Hellickson became the youngest pitcher since to be honored with the award since Bret Saberhagen in 1989.