BALTIMORE — Rays manager Joe Maddon always talks about the importance of extra-inning wins on the road, how they reveal a team's character.
So after Tampa Bay pulled out a second one on this 11-game, cross-country road trip, a 7-5 win in 11 innings over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Saturday, Maddon was naturally thrilled. But it was not only that they won but how they did it, a complete team effort and never-say-die approach to help them overcome two late-inning deficits.
"We talked about 9=8 years ago, there's a perfect example of that (Saturday)," Maddon said. "Perfect. Which I now think is part of our culture."
Tampa Bay blew a three-run lead with ace left-hander David Price on the mound, but after all that went wrong in the 3-hour, 48-minute game, it was Evan Longoria who knocked in Ben Zobrist from third with a winning single in the 11th.
"I think from pitch No. 1 to whenever the game ends, we're going to keep fighting," Longoria said.
Zobrist had a great night with four extra-base hits, including three doubles, tying a club record set by "Super" Sam Fuld on April 11. That helped Tampa Bay (34-30) remain within four games of the red-hot Red Sox in the American League East and improve to 5-4 on the four-city, 12-day trip.
"We needed it," Longoria said. "That was a big win for us."
The Rays' night appeared promising from the start, with the offense showing signs of life, picking up as many hits in the first two innings (three) as it had in the entire game in Friday's 7-0 loss. Casey Kotchman racked up four hits, including the tying single in the ninth and another in the 11th to give the Rays a two-run cushion.
Tampa Bay also had a special night in the field, with centerfielder B.J. Upton making a spectacular over-the-shoulder basket catch to likely save a run in the first and leftfielder Justin Ruggiano robbing J.J. Hardy of a go-ahead homer in the seventh.
Price said he didn't have his best stuff in a 117-pitch outing, allowing four runs on eight hits and two homers, both to Mark Reynolds. "My goodness, when he hits a baseball, it's a helium ball," Maddon said of Reynolds. "It doesn't come down, it's unbelievable."
In a game filled with sparkling defense, arguably the biggest play was made by Reid Brignac in the eighth. Reliever Joel Peralta, after getting himself into a two-on, two-out jam, walked No. 8 and 9 hitters Robert Andino and Brandon Snyder, both on full counts, to drive in the go-ahead run. But with the bases still loaded, Brignac made a stellar stab at shortstop on a hard-hit grounder by Hardy, throwing him out to thwart the threat and keep it a 5-4 game.
"He saved the game," Price said.
That enabled the Rays to rally to tie it in the ninth, on a one-out triple by Zobrist and a Kotchman single. They got solid relief from Cesar Ramos, Juan Cruz (who picked up the win) and Kyle Farnsworth, who had his 14th save in 15 chances to cap the second-extra inning win on the trip, after a 4-3, 10-inning victory Wednesday over the Angels.
"It," Zobrist said, "was a great night."
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.