BALTIMORE — 3B Evan Longoria had a big Thursday, hitting his career high-tying 33rd homer and singling for a five-RBI night, but it took a lot of help from his teammates for the Rays to secure another tense win over an AL East contender, hanging on to beat the Orioles 7-6.
"We're playing well," manager Kevin Cash said. "I don't think we care about (being a) spoiler. … This is great learning experience for all of us."
Longoria hit a three-run homer in the first, but rookie LHP Blake Snell gave it right back, allowing four runs on four hits and a walk in the first and failing to get through the fifth inning, needing 90 pitches to get 13 outs.
It was the fifth time in his past seven starts (one due to injury) that Snell has failed to complete the fifth. But Cash said, and Snell concurred, that there was some good tucked in there, specifically the way he adjusted after the rough start.
"He did a nice job of kind of settling down," Cash said. "They didn't make it easy for him. But we saw some things out of him today that we've kind of been asking (for) — the fastball/changeup approach and working in more sliders."
The Rays (63-83) tied the score in the second with Logan Forsythe singled in Steven Souza Jr. and went back ahead in the third when Brad Miller and Souza doubled. They expanded the lead to 7-4 in the fourth when Longoria singled in Forsythe and Kevin Kiermaier.
"He's just been tremendous for us, big hit after big hit,'' Cash said. "Tonight both of them were huge.''
Longoria hit 33 homers the first time in 2009, his first full season in the majors, and the five RBI gave him 91, and a shot at 100 for the first time since 2010.
"Personally it's been a nice year to be able to go out and accomomplish things like that,'' Longoria said. "But like I always say, it doesn't really mean anything if you're not going to the playoffs.''
The Orioles, battling for the AL East title, scored twice in the eighth as Dana Eveland allowed both batters he faced to reach, and got within 7-6.
But closer RHP Alex Colome, despite two one-out singles, struck out Baltimore bashers Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis to end it for his 33rd save.
RHP Brad Boxberger earned the win, summoned unexpectedly early with two on and one out in the fifth, and retiring Trumbo and Davis.
"The biggest outs were what Boxberger came in to get,'' Cash said."That's when they were making their run.
"It's different,'' Boxberger said. "I've done it before, but it's been a while. But it worked out because we won the game, and that's all that matters'
Kiermaier, who missed a leaping catch in the first inning, lent a hand with a tremendous running catch of a Manny Machado liner in the seventh. Souza provided offensive support with three hits, raising his average to .393 over his last eight games. RHP Danny Farquhar extended his scoreless streak to 10 games.
FRANKLIN OUT: INF/OF Nick Franklin has been one of the few success stories this season, producing enough at the plate and showing versatility defensively to seemingly earn a position on the 2017 roster as a superutility man.
But his season may be over after he left Thursday's game with a strain of his left hamstring. Cash said he was "day to day" but they would be cautious and planned to talk about options for additional depth.
Franklin, playing first base, stretched to scoop a wide throw from Forsythe to complete a double play. He was in obvious pain after doing so and was replaced by Richie Shaffer.
If Franklin is going to miss even most of the final 16 games, the Rays may have to add shortstop depth.
They would have only Brad Miller, who they want to get more reps at first base and maybe the outfield, and Alexei Ramirez, who was signed after being released by the Padres once Matt Duffy underwent season-ending foot surgery. The Rays had already decided to not call up Tim Beckham or Taylor Motter due to performance and attitude issues.
HELPING HAND: Before Thursday's game, Rays RHP Chris Archer joined Orioles CF Adam Jones in talking to and answering questions from about 60 kids with the Boys and Girls Club of Metropolitan Baltimore. "He's always a very thoughtful person and I'm happy that he's given me the opportunity to work with his group," Archer said. Over the past two seasons Archer, the Rays nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, has not only worked with Tampa Bay area groups but spoken to kids in Arlington (Texas), Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia and Toronto.
MEDICAL MATTERS: Results of an MRI and exam by Dr. Doug Carlan on 1B/DH Logan Morrison's left wrist confirmed the Rays' initial thought, that he had torn the sheath on a tendon in his left wrist, and needs surgery. Morrison wants to get a second opinion, given that he is a free-agent-to-be and the surgery and rehab would impact his 2017 market. … Cash said there was nothing new on the status of LHP Xavier Cedeno, who has not pitched since Aug. 29 due to neck stiffness and may be shut down.
MISCELLANY: Triple-A hitting coach Ozzie Timmons joined the team for the four-game series. ... Forsythe has had eight multi-hit games in his last 16.