Starter Radhames Liz and three relievers allowed five home runs as Tampa Bay pummeled Baltimore, 17-2, on Wednesday at Tropicana Field. The Rays set a team record for total bases and new home-field marks for runs scored and hits to take two out of three from Baltimore in the final series of the season between the two clubs.
"We made bad pitches with nothing on it," Baltimore pitching coach Leo Mazzone said. "That's when home runs happen."
Entering Wednesday having lost 12 of their previous 14 games, during which the pitching staff had a 9.31 ERA, the Orioles were hoping for good results from Liz,who made his third career start. The rookie allowed two runs in three innings against Boston in his previous outing, but ran into trouble from the start against Tampa Bay, which has won six of its last eight against Baltimore after starting the year 1-9 vs. the O's.
Leadoff man Akinori Iwamura stung Liz with a sharp grounder that smacked off the righty's left calf for an infield single. Liz remained in the game but allowed two runs in the first inning. After retiring the leadoff man in the second, Liz (0-2) gave up four straight singles and a sacrifice fly to put his team behind 4-0. A walk to B.J. Upton ended his night as Rob Bell got a Delmon Young popout to end the frame.
"He just didn't have command," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said of Liz. "He was a one-pitch guy."
"His command is borderline right now, period," Mazzone said when asked if getting hit affected Liz's command.
Bell, who rejoined the team on Wednesday after being designated for assignment on Aug. 30, didn't fare much better. He allowed a single run in the third but encountered more trouble in the fourth. The first two batters reached before Young cranked a three-run homer to left field.
Brendan Harris followed with a solo shot that cleared the 404-foot sign in center, breaking his homerless streak at 263 at-bats. Bell didn't make it to the inning's big blast as he was removed after a single to Jonny Gomes. Fernando Cabrera got two outs, but also walked two batters before Carlos Pena came up. The Rays' first baseman slugged a grand slam for his 36th homer, putting Baltimore behind 13-0 and capping an eight-run fourth inning for Tampa Bay (58-82).
"Players are getting opportunities," Trembley said. "It's not working who I'm putting in there. We're having a hard time staying away from the big inning."
Cabrera had a 1-2-3 fifth inning, the only frame Tampa Bay did not get a hit. Brian Burres replaced him and allowed Pena's second homer, a two-run blast, in the sixth. Burres also gave up a solo shot to Gomes in the seventh inning that traveled 462 feet. He kept Tampa Bay scoreless in the eighth, but not before walking one batter and surrendering the Rays' 22nd hit.
The Orioles scored twice in the fifth on Tike Redman's two-run double, but that did little to alleviate the frustration of losing for the 13th time in the past 15 games. Catcher Paul Bako dropped his helmet in the batter's box after a called third strike in the top of the fifth inning and was ejected by home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Melvin Mora took a disputed called third strike in the sixth and Trembley rushed onto the field to stop Mora from being tossed for arguing balls and strikes.
"The emotion came out," Bako said. "The frustration aspect was just that we were down a lot obviously. Everybody in the game is still trying to fight -- every pitch, every out, every inning."
Anthony Gagliano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.