BALTIMORE (AP) - The only finger-pointing Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson did after blowing his second straight save after converting a club-record 35 in a row was at himself.
``I (stunk) tonight,' he said after allowing five runs in one-third of an inning in a 10-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
Johnson knows what went wrong and how best to reverse the recent trend.
``Not getting strike one is a good place to start,' he said. ``Pitching behind, just not throwing quality pitches. It kind of snowballed back and didn't obviously make the pitch I needed to. It's just one of those days where it just didn't work.'
Orioles manager Buck Showalter doesn't think Johnson is in a slump, nor does he believe the right-hander can't figure his way out of the funk.
``He had little command issues, but he usually works his way through them, like a lot of our pitchers, like all pitchers in the major leagues do at times,' Showalter said.
After allowing the Rays' six-run rally in the ninth inning - a comeback that ended the Orioles' streak of 109 straight victories when leading after seven innings - Johnson (1-4) expects to get the call the next time Baltimore has a save situation.
And Showalter sounds ready to give it to him.
``I'm lucky to have him,' Showalter said of Johnson. ``We are. And we didn't finish off our game today, but we had some things that could have made it easier and that's baseball. That happens sometimes. It's very frustrating, but you've got to turn the page. It's a game of constant challenges, and there will be another one right around the corner.'
Matt Joyce hit a go-ahead two-run double in the ninth inning to lift the Rays to their season-high third straight road victory, all of them come-front-behind wins.
``That's kind of been our identity from the beginning of the year,' Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said. ``We've really done a good job throughout the game of continuing to tack on runs, and even when we've been down early in games, finding a way to put together good at_bats and score runs.'
Joyce also homered and finished 3 for 5 with five RBIs for the Rays.
``We believe in each other, and then you're able to do those things,' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ``If you stop believing, if you don't think it can't happen, then it never will. If you think it can happen, then it shall. And that's pretty much what this group's been about.'
But this one came against a closer that had been virtually unbeatable until this week and a team that's been hard to overcome when taking a lead to the eighth.
``Their track record after seven innings has spoken for itself,' Longoria said. ``They've been really good late in the game. And Jim Johnson has been as good as they come. To be able to get to him and then tack a couple more on and be able to win a game like that, especially here in this hostile environment, is really big.'
Trailing 6-4, Kelly Johnson hit a one-out homer off Jim Johnson, whose club-record streak of 35 straight saves ended Tuesday.
Johnson then loaded the bases on two walks and a hit before Joyce hit a two-run double to the right-center gap for a 7-6 lead. Ben Zobrist followed with a two-run double off Darren O'Day, who later issued a bases-loaded walk to Luke Scott.
``We're not clicking great right now, but unfortunately you go through little spells in a season like we play,' Baltimore left fielder Nate McLouth said. ``Like I said, there's no sense of sitting here and beating yourselves up about it. Wipe it clean and try to get it done tomorrow.'
Adam Jones and Chris Davis homered for the Orioles, who have lost a season-high four straight.
Alex Torres (1-0) worked four hitless innings for the victory.
The Orioles sent 10 men to the plate in the first inning and took a 4-0 lead against Roberto Hernandez.
McLouth led off with a single, moved to second on a groundout and scored when Nick Markakis doubled over the head of Joyce. Jones then ripped a line drive homer to left off an 0-2 pitch and Davis followed with a shot to left-center.
Jair Jurrjens, whose contract was purchased before the game from Triple-A Norfolk, retired the first seven hitters he faced before allowing successive doubles to Jose Molina and Yunel Escobar. Molina's ball bounced off the top of the wall in center, prompting Maddon to seek a video review, which upheld the original call.
Later in the third, Joyce hit a two-run homer onto the flag court in right field, his seventh of the season, cutting the deficit to 4-3.
Hernandez departed after hitting Davis with a pitch to lead off the bottom of the third. The right-hander allowed five runs and eight hits in two-plus innings, with nine of the 14 batters he faced reaching base.
Reliever Cesar Ramos struck out Matt Wieters swinging, but gave up a run-scoring double to J.J. Hardy for a 5-3 Orioles lead.
In the fourth, McLouth led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on Markakis' single to center and scored on Jones' broken-bat fielder's choice grounder.
The Rays got within 6-4 in the fifth, but lost Molina in the process. Molina pulled up with a tight left hamstring after a leadoff double and was replaced by Jose Lobaton, who scored on Joyce's two-out double.
Jurrjens gave up four runs and six hits - all for extra bases - over five innings.
NOTES: After the game, the Orioles optioned 2B Ryan Flaherty to Norfolk. A corresponding move will be announced Sunday. ... Hardy has hit in 13 straight games. ... Longoria doubled in the ninth, extending his hitting streak to 12 games, matching his career high. ... When Jurrjens made his major league debut on Aug. 15, 2007, at Cleveland, he was opposed by Hernandez, then known as Fausto Carmona. ... Hernandez failed to go 5 1-3 innings for the first time in eight 2013 starts. He walked none and struck out one. ... The Orioles also recalled RHP Jake Arrieta from Norfolk, optioned RHP Alex Burnett to Triple-A, placed OF Nolan Reimold (right hamstring strain) on the 15-day DL and moved 2B Brian Roberts to the 60-day DL. ... Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson turned 76 on Saturday. ... Maddon said RHP Jake Odorizzi will start Monday, taking the turn of injured LHP David Price. The Rays will make a roster move to add Odorizzi to the 25-man roster Sunday.
The Associated Press News Service
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