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Rays Hold Off Orioles, Longo Runs All Four Base Pads, Rays Win The Series

As noted earlier, Johnny Damon continued his hot streak with a leadoff homerun to get on base in 37 consecutive games. This tied the Rays club record originally held by Ben Grieve and is Damon's career-best. 

The Seventh

The Rays put men on second and third on an error and a double before Kelly Shoppach got a clutch roller in between shortstop and third to score two and put the Rays up 7-3. Johnny Damon then struck out without a double. 

Sean Rodriguez had a few impressive plays with his glove today. Wade Davis left two men on and Adam Russell allowed a single to lead the bases in the seventh. Two shots to shallow right had S-Rod diving and getting the runner at first, once in the back field on a sharp bounce and once bare handed on a trickler. He got the outs, but the score steadily climbed to 7-5.

The Eighth

On one out, Evan Longoria hit an inside-the-park home run scoring two runs after a Ben Zobrist single in the eighth. The ball knuckled around Adam Jones as he dove in mid-shallow center and trickled to the warning track for what should have been an error. Jones caught up to it and tossed it home for a play at the plate as Evan Longoria slid in just ahead of the throw. 

Cesar Ramos pitched the bottom of the eighth and gave up a solo shot to Luke Scott as the slug-fest continued. He would allow a single before S-Rod had yet another web gem: On a soft grounder up the middle he caught the bouncer and gave it a backhand flip with his glove as he tumbled to the infield grass and Reid Brignac (now playing shortstop) was able to catch the soft-toss falling toward right field to get the force out. 

Felix Pie was caught stealing on a perfect throw from Kelly Shoppach. Three runs down, five outs left and you get caught stealing? Juan Cruz got the final out swinging, Rays still lead 9-6.

The Ninth

Kotchman grounded out, Brignac struck out and Shoppach lost his bat into the stands. Camden Yards staff asked for the bat back from the fan who caught it, he said no and the staff made him leave? Poor kid. Shoppach made it on base but Damon flew out to end the Rays campaign.

Juan Cruz stayed in to allow a base runner with no outs before he was pulled. Surprisingly, with a three run lead, the save opportunity was not given to Kyle Farnsworth but former closer J.P. Howell. Since returning from shoulder surgery Howell has pitched poorly in seven games including a blown save against the Mariners on Davis's last start. The rain clouds were rolling in and the pressure was on. 

You could see the wind blow the jerseys of the players and lightning flashes occasionally made it across the field. Luckily, Howell made quick work of the O's with a fly out to left and a double play ground out that skipped off Howell's foot before making it to Brignac. The rain came down hard minutes later and the Rays took the series.

Game Notes

  • Longoria's inside-the-park home run was the ninth in Rays history and the club's first since Carl Crawford's in 2009. Visually the ball was heading for shallow center-right and looked like a routine out for Jones but it suddenly changed direction and spun to Jones's right, just missing his glove as he dove and adjusted.
  • Kelly Shoppach easily could have been overlooked today but performed well with two hits including a two-out RBI that gave the Rays their winning cushion. He had a stellar performance behind the plate which was capitalized by gunning down Felix Pie in the eighth. 
  • Justin Ruggiano continued to swing a hot bat with three hits this afternoon. Only the shortstop position went hitless tonight and five Rays had at least two.
  • Wade Davis (5-5) allowed five runs, four earned, and eight hits and almost lasted seven innings. His control issues continued as he almost let the game slip away with two solo homeruns, but he held Baltimore down as the O's never had the lead. Davis couldn't strikeout more than three but walked only one batter. Better, but not great. He is still unbeaten in Camden Yards. 

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.