ST. PETERSBURG — With the Orioles threatening to score the go-ahead run in the eighth inning Tuesday night, a peculiar power outage at Tropicana Field sparked a 19-minute delay.
But it appeared to only delay the inevitable, as veteran reliever Joel Peralta couldn't escape his self-made jam in a 5-3 loss to Baltimore in front of 11,855.
"It wasn't the lights, it was me," Peralta said. "I was missing the pitches, making bad pitches. And they got me. It's my fault."
Peralta was already in trouble before a strand of lights flickered. He gave up a single and double to put runners on second and third with just one out. When the lights came back, and Peralta returned to the mound, he walked Steve Pearce to load the bases, and Ryan Flaherty knocked in the winning run with a single to right.
Manager Joe Maddon said he liked Peralta against that part of the lineup, though was not sure why the veteran setup man didn't use his fastball more.
"I have as much confidence in him as anybody that I've ever had as a relief pitcher," Maddon said. "Just did not have a very good night."
The outage, caused when a transformer carrying an incoming power line was struck by lightning, according to Duke Energy, made for another long game (3 hours, 36 minutes) for the Rays, who had returned from an encouraging 5-5 road trip through Chicago, Boston and New York.
Evan Longoria gave the Rays an early lead with a two-out, two-run homer in the first, his fifth career blast off Chris Tillman. Righthander Chris Archer kept Tampa Bay close in a five-inning outing. And recently struggling Ben Zobrist tied it up with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. The Rays (15-18) even made it interesting in the ninth, putting runners on second and third with one out. But it wasn't enough as Tampa Bay dropped its third loss to the AL East-leading Orioles (16-14), who have outscored them 15-4.
Archer was looking to bounce back from a rough start in Thursday's doubleheader in Boston, when he walked five and lasted a season-low 42/3 innings. He went just five innings Tuesday, but was a little better, making big pitches to wiggle out of back-to-back bases-loaded jams in the fourth and fifth, allowing just two sacrifice flies (three runs overall). Archer scattered seven hits in 100 pitches, walking just one, though Maddon said he threw too many sliders in bad spots.
"It's an improvement from last game, but not where I want to be," Archer said. "I'm not the type of pitcher who goes five innings and throws 100 pitches. So I can definitely be better. I still expect way more out of myself than that."
Brad Boxberger, called up again Tuesday, stepped right in, pitching 12/3 innings of hitless relief to keep the Rays solvent until they tied it in the seventh, a rally keyed by David DeJesus' walk in a 10-pitch at bat. During the eighth-inning outage, most players left the field, except Matt Joyce and Desmond Jennings, who sat down in center as Bugs Bunny played baseball on the JumboTron. "I saw a couple of their guys sitting in the outfield, Looney Tunes was on the scoreboard," Flaherty said. "It was kind of a bizarre moment."
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.