BALTIMORE (AP) - Like it or not, the Baltimore Orioles have been thrust into the spoiler's role during the final weeks of the season.
The Orioles don't necessarily relish the idea of ruining a team's pursuit of a playoff berth, but they're not at all fond of losing.
So, after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Tuesday night, the Orioles celebrated a victory rather than savor their role in the AL wild-card race.
``We're very respectful of what the Rays have done to get to the point where these games matter,' Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. ``We're more concerned with doing some things that allow us to be able to do that in the future. ... I don't think (we want) to make somebody feel our pain, so to speak.'
Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to break a tie and end Tampa Bay's five-game winning streak. The loss dropped the Rays four games behind Boston in the wild-card hunt.
``We're playing some teams at the end of the year that are playing for important parts in the playoffs,' Wieters said. ``So they're going to bring their A game, and anytime you can go out there and get a win, it's going to help your confidence going into next year.'
Clearly, the Orioles aren't fond of the spoiler's role.
``We're just trying to play as well as we can against teams that are going to the playoffs,' Wieters said. ``They can fight it out and go for the playoffs. We're just going to try and get better and keep working.'
With the score 2-all, Tampa Bay reliever J.P. Howell (2-3) retired the first two batters in the eighth before Vladimir Guerrero singled. Adam Jones entered as a pinch runner and Howell threw over to first base five times - including three in a row - before serving up a 1-1 pitch that Wieters drove into the left-field seats.
``A stupid pitch,' Howell said. ``You get sick. Nothing goes through your mind. You go blank. It's disgusting.'
Troy Patton (1-1) retired all three batters he faced before Jim Johnson got the final out for his fifth save. It was Patton's first major league win.
Both starters pitched brilliantly but did not receive a decision.
Tampa Bay's David Price allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits in 6 2-3 innings. He is 0-2 against the Orioles, the only team to beat him twice this year.
Alfredo Simon was just as good. The right-hander gave up two runs and six hits over seven innings and had a career-high nine strikeouts, including Desmond Jennings three times.
``We want to do everything we can to beat every team, so if they're in the race, so be it,' Simon said. ``We want to win every game.'
So do the Rays.
``Realistically, we're not going to win the rest of our games,' manager Joe Maddon said. ``Hopefully, we just lose a couple.'
Simon retired 12 straight batters and took a 1-0 lead into the sixth. After B.J. Upton drew a one-out walk and stole second, Evan Longoria sent a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall.
But the Orioles bounced back in the seventh. Nolan Reimold walked and stole second before pinch-hitter Jake Fox chased Price with a run-scoring double to left-center.
Baltimore got an unearned run in the first inning when J.J. Hardy doubled and scored when shortstop Sean Rodriguez threw wildly to first base after fielding a grounder by Nick Markakis.
Tampa Bay loaded the bases with no outs in the second before Simon struck out John Jaso and got Rodriguez to hit into a double play. The Rays didn't get another runner until Upton walked in the sixth, setting the stage for Longoria's 26th home run.
After scoring in the first, the Orioles didn't get a runner to second base until the sixth. In the fifth, Robert Andino hit a liner to left that Jennings snagged on the run at the warning track.
In the sixth, Hardy reached on an infield hit and Markakis walked before Guerrero hit into a double play. Price then retired Wieters on a grounder to third.
NOTES: By stealing second base in the second inning, Tampa Bay's Johnny Damon became the ninth player in baseball history with 200 homers and 400 steals. ... Jones missed a fourth straight start with a sore right thumb. He was named the Orioles winner of the Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable work in the community. ... Tampa Bay RHP Kyle Farnsworth is out with a right elbow injury. Maddon said he thinks Farnsworth is improving and will return shortly. Joel Peralta served as the closer on Monday. ... Baltimore has scheduled RHP Jeremy Guthrie (7-17) for the final game of the three-game series Wednesday night. Guthrie leads the majors in losses. The Rays will start RHP Wade Davis (10-8).
The Associated Press News Service
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