ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - It was a bad day all around for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The defending AL East champions not only were beat 5-1 by the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, the Rays placed All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique.
``It's going to be much more difficult, of course,' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ``We're going to have to figure out another way to get this done. It's just the way the baseball season works sometimes.'
Longoria is expected to miss at least three weeks.
``I think the results of the MRI (exam) were not what I expected,' Longoria said. ``It felt a lot better than what it showed.'
The Rays were consistent on offense - in a bad way - during the Orioles' season-opening sweep. Tampa Bay had one run and four hits in each of the three games of the series.
``We're on pace to score 162 runs this year, which might be a major league record,' Maddon said. ``When you only score one run a night, obviously it makes it very difficult to win. We've just got to do a better job at the plate. You're going to have a three-game losing streak at some point during the course of the season. Ours just happens to be right now.'
Baltimore rookie Zach Britton pitched six sharp innings in his major league debut. The left-hander (1-0) allowed one run and three hits, struck out six and walked three.
Britton was the third straight Orioles starter to silence the Tampa Bay bats. Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Tillman combined to allow three hits over 14 scoreless innings in the first two games.
The Rays have been held to four hits or fewer in four straight home games, dating to Sept. 29th against Baltimore. Tampa Bay is first team with such a streak since Seattle in August 1989.
``It's the beginning of the season,' Maddon said. ``They played well. We didn't play poorly, they just outplayed us a little bit. A lot of time to go, man, 162-game schedule. A lot of things happen. I'm not discouraged. I know it's going to be more difficult. I'm not delusional. but we can do this.'
Wade Davis (0-1) gave up four runs and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings for the Rays, who had never before started a season with three straight losses.
``We've got to bounce back from it,' Davis said. ``I felt pretty under control. That last inning I made some bad pitches and they took some swings. ... Wrong pitches to the wrong people at the wrong times.'
Mark Reynolds hit a tiebreaking RBI double in Baltimore's three-run seventh, which also featured J.J Hardy's two-run double. Reynolds added another run-scoring double in the ninth.
Matt Wieters put the Orioles up 1-0 with a run-scoring single in the first. But Tampa Bay tied it on Elliot Johnson's third-inning bunt single.
It was the first time since Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 2005, that Baltimore swept a three-game set at Tampa Bay.
``The Orioles have pitched well against us,' Maddon said. ``They've played some really good defense and have gotten some timely hitting. It sounds like a pretty good formula.'
NOTES: Tampa Bay LF Johnny Damon was a late scratch due to right calf soreness. ... Orioles LF Luke Scott was out of the lineup because of a strained right groin. ... Tampa Bay purchased the contract of INF Felipe Lopez from Triple-A Durham and designated RHP Mike Ekstrom for assignment. ... Orioles RHP Justin Duchscherer (left hip-back) is planning to undergo an ablation procedure - which uses radio frequency waves - on his lower back to decrease nerve pain. ... Larry King threw a ceremonial first pitch.
The Associated Press News Service
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