This year, they've managed to stay near the top of their division despite a far less effective Hammel.
The Orioles hope their struggling right-hander can get back on track Friday night when they open a three-game set against the visiting Tampa Bay Rays .
Hammel (5-1, 4.93 ERA) was Baltimore's most consistent starter in 2012 despite winning only eight games. He missed nearly two months due to knee surgery but returned in time to pitch very well in two postseason starts.
The team leader in wins this season, Hammel's record is very deceiving. He's posted quality starts in only three of his eight outings and none in his last three. Hammel has won three straight decisions in a four-start span despite a 5.14 ERA, giving up 27 hits and 10 walks over 21 innings in those games.
He lasted a season-low four-plus innings at Minnesota on Friday after yielding six runs and eight hits. Hammel was taken off the hook for the loss when the Orioles overcame a six-run deficit for a 9-6 victory.
"Obviously it's frustrating," Hammel told the team's official website. "Sooner or later it'll become easy, I've just got to keep putting in the hard work and trusting, and being confident in what I do."
One of Hammel's better starts came against his former team on opening day, when he limited the Rays to three runs and three hits over six innings in a 7-4 victory.
Chris Davis hit a three-run homer in that game, the first of his 10 hits in 21 at-bats this season against Tampa Bay (20-20). Baltimore's first baseman has three homers and 12 of his 37 RBIs in six games versus the Rays, and is 8 for 18 with a home run and two doubles off scheduled starter Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 5.25).
Davis, though, was held without an RBI as the Orioles (23-17) were swept by San Diego in a two-game series, falling 8-4 Wednesday. They went 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position, stranded 10 and twice grounded into inning-ending double plays.
Manny Machado was again a bright spot, matching a career high with four hits. Machado, tied for the major league lead with 59 hits, has at least three in four of his last five games and is batting .560 (14 of 25) in that span.
The Rays dropped their second straight following a season-best six-game win streak, losing 4-3 to Boston on Thursday after closer Fernando Rodney gave up three runs in the ninth."We had a good chance to take that series and that's a series you definitely want to win," starting pitcher Alex Cobb said. "New York lost again tonight so it would have been really nice to gain some ground there."
James Loney grounded out with two on for the final out to complete an 0-for-4 night. Loney, who leads the majors with a .367 average, is 8 for 16 with a homer and six RBIs against the Orioles this year.
Hellickson, meanwhile, is out to earn his first win in nearly a month.
The right-hander allowed a season-high six runs over 6 2-3 innings against the Padres on Saturday but escaped without a decision in an 8-7 win. Hellickson gave up a two-run homer in the first inning and retired 16 straight at one point before surrendering Jesus Guzman 's pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh.
He's pitched with a lead in four consecutive starts and has not won any of them.
Hellickson is 6-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 12 starts against the Orioles.
Tampa Bay has lost six of seven at Camden Yards.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|May 16, 2013||David Price||15-Day DL||Left triceps strain|
|May 15, 2013||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left tricep tightness|
|May 08, 2013||Brandon Gomes||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|May 04, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Left hand contusion|
|April 27, 2013||Jose Molina||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|April 25, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|May 13, 2013||Wei-Yin Chen||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|May 12, 2013||Wei-Yin Chen||Day-to-Day||Right oblique strain|
|May 04, 2013||Miguel Gonzalez||15-Day DL||Right thumb blister|
|May 03, 2013||Chris Davis||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee soreness|
|April 28, 2013||Taylor Teagarden||15-Day DL||Dislocated left thumb|
|April 07, 2013||Nolan Reimold||Day-to-Day||Right hamstring tightness|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon wanted to stay away from overworked closer Fernando Rodney and setup man Joel Peralta .
He had to throw that idea out when the Baltimore Orioles staged a big rally, and Peralta stepped up.
The right-hander got four outs for his first save of the season and the Rays held on for a 12-10 victory over the slumping Orioles on Friday night.
"We've been blowing some games, so tonight was really special for me," Peralta said.
Kelly Johnson hit a three-run homer and an RBI single in Tampa Bay's highest scoring game of the season. Yunel Escobar had three hits and three RBIs, and Desmond Jennings added a two-run single.
The Orioles surrendered a season-high 17 hits for the second straight game and gave up their most runs in any game this season. Baltimore has allowed 27 runs and 52 hits while losing four of its last five games.
Chris Dickerson hit a three-run homer in Baltimore's six-run eighth inning, but the Orioles' rally stalled from there.
"I felt like we were going to make a run at them somewhere if we could keep them from scoring. That was our challenge tonight," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We dug ourselves a pretty big hole."
Jeremy Hellickson (2-2) was charged with eight runs and 10 hits in 7 2-3 innings, but still managed to get the win.
Johnson drove a full-count pitch from Jason Hammel (5-2) over the wall in right in the third, capping Tampa Bay's four-run outburst with his sixth homer. Johnson singled in James Loney , Escobar doubled home a run and Jennings had his big hit in the fifth, helping the Rays open a 9-3 lead.
"We've been playing good offense up and down the lineup," Maddon said.
Hammel (5-2) allowed a season-high seven runs and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings with four strikeouts and two walks in his first loss since April 7. The right-hander's ERA has increased from 4.10 to 5.72 after allowing 13 runs and 18 hits over his last two starts.
"I'm missing over the plate, arm-side fastballs," Hammel said. "That's honestly about it. It's a pretty simple fix, but for right now it's seemingly difficult for me."
Manny Machado , Chris Davis and Matt Wieters each drove in two runs for Baltimore, which finished with 13 hits. J.J. Hardy went 2 for 3 with his eighth homer, extending his hitting streak to 12 games.
After Dickerson connected against Kyle Farnsworth in the eighth, Yamaico Navarro reached on a two-out single. Peralta came in and got Nate McLouth to fly out, then pitched a perfect ninth.
"We really should have been able to put that game away a lot better," Maddon said. "I did not want to have to get Joel or Fernando up tonight. That was the concern."
Tampa Bay had lost two in a row after winning six straight games. Rodney blew a save opportunity when he was charged with three runs in a 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Thursday.
NOTES: Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria went 2 for 3 while extending his hitting streak to 11 games. ... Baltimore RHP Miguel Gonzalez (blister) likely will start Tuesday against the New York Yankees barring a setback, Showalter said. Placed on the 15-day DL on May 4, Gonzalez is 2-2 in six starts. ... RHP Jair Jurrjens will be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to start on Saturday, Showalter said. The former National League All-Star will face RHP Roberto Hernandez .