Thursday, May 08, 2014
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Schoop Hits Go-Ahead Homer To Push Orioles Past Rays

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[May 08, 2014]  ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Starting pitcher Bud Norris came up empty in a standout performance, and closer Tommy Hunter nearly did, too.

But rookie second baseman Jonathan Schoop and center fielder Adam Jones provided just enough margin for the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.

Schoop hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning after Jones walloped solo shots earlier, helping the Orioles to a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

"It was really nice, especially to come through there and especially to get a 'W'," Schoop said. "That's all this game is about, you know win."

Baltimore (17-14) took the first two games of the series and is 4-0 against the Rays this season. The Orioles won 10 of their last 16 road games. Tampa Bay fell to 15-19 after losing its third in the last four games. It became the last team in the major to lose a one-run game after starting the season 6-0 in that category.

Norris was charged with two runs on three hits with two walks and four walks in 5 2/3 innings and for the 18th time in his last 36 starts he received two runs or less of run support. He was cruising through the sixth inning, leading, 2-1, until a two-out hit batsmen and an infield single by third baseman Evan Longoria prompted manager Buck Showalter to insert left-hander Brian Matusz. Right-handed pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez tied the game with a single to center. Right-hander Ryan Webb entered to end the threat with the help of a dazzling defensive play by Schoop.

"I went out there and competed," Norris said. "Got some ground balls, got behind in some counts, had some longer counts, so I had to labor a little more than I would have liked, but kept the team in it."

Schoop gave the Orioles the lead back with a two-out, two-run homer to left, his third of the season. The rally began with two out and the bases-empty when first baseman Steve Pearce single of right-hander Brandon Gomes.

"The pitch sequence and all that was exactly what I wanted to do," Gomes said. "I executed everything I wanted to the whole night and that pitch wasn't in or up quite enough."

Rays starter Cesar Ramos allowed two runs on just three hits -- but two of them solo homers to center fielder Adam Jones -- and two walks in 5 2/3 innings.

Webb earned his first win in relief, Gomes (2-2) the loss. Hunter took the American League lead with his 10th save despite allowing a run in the ninth on three hits, including a lead-off double by right fielder Wil Myers and an RBI single by catcher Ryan Hanigan. Tampa Bay had runners on first and third with one out, but Hunter got a lineout against second baseman Ben Zobrist and snagged a shot up the middle by center fielder Desmond Jennings to end the game. Last week, Jennings might have been the ideal candidate for such a situation, but has gone 0-for-10 since being named the American League Player of the Week.

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Jones gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead with massive solo home runs leading off the second and fourth innings. Both homers, which bounced off the blue wall beyond the 404-foot marker, came on the first pitch of the inning against Ramos, an 86 mph sinker and an 82 mph changeup. The home runs were Jones' second and third this season.

"I made two mistakes over the plate and paid for it against a good hitter," said Ramos. "It's definitely a decision I can't control. I'll keep building that confidence."

Rays designated hitter David DeJesus cut the margin to 2-1 in the fifth, stroking a 91 mph first-pitch fastball into the right field stands off Norris. The homer was his third of the season.

NOTES: Orioles RF Nick Markakis singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak 14 games. He has a hit in 17 of his past 18 games. ... Since 2008, the Rays have used only 21 different starting pitchers, the fewest in the majors. During the same span, the Orioles have deployed 45, which is the most in the majors. ... The Rays began play in last place in the American League East, just the second time they occupied that spot after the first month of a season since 2008. Last year, they spent two days in the basement in April.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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