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Baltimore Orioles end 12-game skid against Tampa Bay Rays 5-4

BALTIMORE — The big things the Rays took care of Friday night, as Evan Longoria hit a pair of home runs to give him a major-league-leading four in four games and Dioner Navarro added another in the ninth.

But it was a few little things that, uncharacteristically, hurt in a 5-4 loss that halted the Rays' 12-game winning streak over the Orioles and their six-game run at Camden Yards, as well as any momentum from their season-opening series win at Boston.

"That's what it seemed like," Carl Crawford said.

Veteran Gabe Kapler committed a huge baserunning gaffe — "stupid," "unacceptable" and "inexcusable" were three of the adjectives he used — that took the Rays (2-2) out of a potential tying rally in the fourth. "It just can't happen," he said.

Crawford, who has drawn raves from manager Joe Maddon for his intense play, came up short diving for a pair of balls in leftfield and, thanks to a perfect bounce, was thrown out trying to turn a one-out first-inning double into a triple. "That (play) kind of messed up the early rally we had," he said.

And starter Andy Sonnanstine, admittedly not sharp and out of synch all night, allowed the Orioles a rally when it can't happen, with two outs and none on in the fifth, turning a 2-1 game into 5-1. "They made me pay for my mistakes," he said.

Maddon — acknowledging going into the series there was the potential for a letdown but confident it wouldn't happen — chose to highlight the good (Ben Zobrist's diving catch and throw, Lance Cormier's middle relief, their overall at-bats despite nine more strikeouts) and praise his team's effort.

"I just liked the way we played," Maddon said. "We didn't score the runs, but we hit a lot of balls hard at people tonight. I believe if we play with that kind of intensity on a nightly basis we're going to win the appropriate number of games this year."

They won plenty against the Orioles last season, 15 in 18 tries. But the Orioles look to be better this season, and the Rays are going to have to notice. "You put 2008 to bed, and you put that streak to bed," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

The loss came with a fair amount of familiarity, as former Ray Mark Hendrickson worked the first 51/3 and got the win. And another ex-Ray, Danys Baez, got the next five outs and looked very sharp in doing so. Plus Aubrey Huff had a hit and scored a run.

Kapler's mistake — he went from second to third when Zobrist hit a grounder but nonchalantly turned the corner without realizing Zobrist was safe and was easily thrown out — was surprising, especially for a guy who spent the 2007 season as a minor-league manager.

And Sonnanstine's performance was disappointing.

"The three runs with two outs and nobody on in the fifth was obviously a big moment," Maddon said. "Sonny was just not as sharp as he can be overall with any of his pitches, and that was a big part of the problem."

Longoria, with four homers in his past 10 times up, including one to right-center, doesn't seem to be having any problems: "I feel good. It's one of things where you get on something like this you just have to ride it as long as you can."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com

Orioles 5

Rays 4

Baltimore Orioles end 12-game skid against Tampa Bay Rays 5-4 04/10/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 11, 2009 2:38am]
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