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Orioles stage late rally, but lose to Rays

Orioles stage late rally, but lose to Rays

at Port Charlotte, Fla.
Thursday, March 4

Orioles at the plate: Felix Pie opened the game with a home run to right field off Tampa Bay starter Jeff Niemann. The blast gave the O's seven dingers in nine innings against the Rays dating back to Wednesday's 12-2 win. Pie tripled in his next at-bat before leaving for a pinch-runner. Lou Montanez hit a two-run double in the fifth. In the ninth, Justin Turner hit a solo home run to temporarily even the score.

Rays at the plate: Evan Longoria struck out in the first, but the at-bat was of the ilk manager Joe Maddon is always quick to praise. By the time Longoria swung and missed for strike three, it was the 13th pitch of the at-bat. Sean Rodriguez hit his second home run in as many days when he connected off O's starter Brian Matusz for a two-run shot in the second. Longoria doubled off former Rays hurler Mark Hendrickson to lead off the fourth, giving the third baseman his first spring hit. One out later, Pat Burrell doubled to right to drive home Longoria with Tampa Bay's third run. In the ninth, Matt Joyce hit a walk-off RBI single, scoring Elliot Johnson, who had tripled to open the frame.

Orioles on the mound: Matusz, Baltimore's likely No. 3 starter, had a dazzling first inning that saw him strike out Gabe Kapler, Carl Crawford and Longoria swinging in order. Matusz gave up a two-run homer to Rodriguez in the second. Koji Uehara and Jason Berken each tossed a scoreless frame. Mark Hendrickson allowed two runs on three hits in one inning.

Rays on the mound: Other than surrendering a leadoff home run to Pie, Niemann's line was immaculate in his two innings. Joaquin Benoit and Dan Wheeler each tossed a scoreless inning. Grant Balfour allowed two runs on three hits in one inning, and Lance Cormier gave up one run on two hits and fanned three over two innings.

Worth noting: Carlos Pena, the 2008 American League Gold Glove winner at first base, flashed the leather in the second when he dove to his left to backhand Scott Moore's hot shot down the line. Pena then calmly flipped to Niemann covering first to complete the highway robbery of extra bases.

Grapefruit League records: Orioles 1-1; Rays 1-1

Up next: The Orioles host the Pirates on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Chris Tillman will start for Baltimore and will be followed by righties Jim Johnson and Alfredo Simon. Lefty Zach Duke will start for Pittsburgh.

The Rays travel to Tampa, Fla., to play the Yankees at 1:05 p.m. The game will broadcast on MLB.TV. Lefty David Price will start for Tampa Bay. Also available to pitch will be righties Heath Rollins, Mike Ekstrom, Jeff Bennett, Jeremy Hellickson and lefties Carlos Hernandez and R.J. Swindle. Righty Phil Hughes will start for New York.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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