But it wouldn't happen again. Not two nights in a row.
"For the first three innings, I said, 'We've got ourselves a ballgame,' because I knew [Rays starter Casey] Fossum was pitching good," said O's manager Sam Perlozzo of his team's 6-4 loss to the Rays. "I feel good about [starter Steve Trachsel]. Even when he got into trouble there, I said, 'This guy's a big-league pitcher. He'll get out of this thing somehow.' And it just didn't happen for us."
Tuesday's contest at Tropicana Field shared many of the same characteristics as Monday's 9-7 win. Trachsel was bounced in the early going, forcing the relief crew to labor 4 1/3 innings. The bullpen, in turn, stymied its opponent for the entirety of its outing, giving the O's a chance to jump back into things. A big long ball -- this time one from a Minor Leaguer with just 18 career at-bats -- gave Baltimore hope of repeating a comeback and extending its win streak to five.
The difference between Monday's win, when the O's rallied from six runs down, and Tuesday's loss was the key hits.
Or lack of them.
Fossum limited Baltimore to five hits, just one of them for extra bases, and a single run through seven innings. Still, when the eighth inning rolled around and Knott belted his first career homer, comeback was on the mind of many.
"I was thinking it, yes," Perlozzo said. "I felt good, still. That's the reason we sent [Jamie] Walker out in the eighth, to keep it tied at 2. I felt like we could come back in the ninth, and he gave us every opportunity to do that, at least."
Instead of one day prior, when a two-run, sixth-inning Freddie Bynum homer inspired the team to score five in the following frame, Knott's shot represented the O's final runs.
"For sure, we were right back in it right away," Knott said. "Just like last night, this team can come from [behind] because there's a lot of offense there."
The problem was Tampa Bay brought a lot of offense as well. Trachsel was strong through the first three innings, facing the minimum number of batters, before running into rough waters in the fourth. The right-hander gave up five hits in the inning, walked two and allowed six runs, putting Baltimore into a hole.
"It wasn't every pitch, it was key pitches," Trachsel said. "I don't think it was a mechanical thing. It comes down to a matter of one bad inning. I just couldn't stop the bleeding. You do everything you can to stay away from that one big inning. I just was not able to do that."
Trachsel exited with two outs in favor of Brian Burres after throwing 32 pitches in the inning, taking his first loss of the season and boosting his ERA to 5.19. As has been the pattern with the bullpen this season, Burres tossed 3 1/3 scoreless frames and left the door open for Walker, who one-hit Tampa Bay in the eighth.
The closest Baltimore would get, however, came with one on and two outs in the eighth when Miguel Tejada blasted a long ball down the left-field line that curved just left of the yellow foul pole before exiting the field. The hit would've tied the game, but instead it counted for strike one. Tejada later grounded out to third.
"We're always hoping for the good things like that," Perlozzo said of Tejada's shot, "but I think we could tell that it wasn't going."
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less