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First-inning folly sets tone in O's loss to Rays

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

ST. PETERSBURG -- A throwing error. A wild pitch. A double-steal attempt that saw the Rays swipe another run. Perhaps never has an inning been such a microcosm of the Orioles' 2018 season as the opening frame was on Saturday night at Tropicana Field: littered with miscues, mental blunders and a defense that has been ravaged by trades.

The end result, four unearned runs for Tampa Bay, set the tone in the 10-5 series-clinching loss, as the Orioles suffered their 101st defeat this season.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- A throwing error. A wild pitch. A double-steal attempt that saw the Rays swipe another run. Perhaps never has an inning been such a microcosm of the Orioles' 2018 season as the opening frame was on Saturday night at Tropicana Field: littered with miscues, mental blunders and a defense that has been ravaged by trades.

The end result, four unearned runs for Tampa Bay, set the tone in the 10-5 series-clinching loss, as the Orioles suffered their 101st defeat this season.

View Full Game Coverage

"We made four or five errors that won't show up in the error column. Not just defensive stuff," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "But [David Hess], I like the way he rebounded and found his step, but at this level it's tough to feel your way around the first inning. His command came back a little bit, but he's still having some trouble commanding the strike zone. Just because you're throwing a strike doesn't mean it's good command."

Video: BAL@TB: Hess punches out Choi in the 2nd inning

Baltimore -- which became the first team in baseball to hit the 100-loss mark Friday -- got within two runs in the fourth on Renato Nunez's two-run homer.

The Orioles closed the gap again in the seventh with Jonathan Villar driving in two, and they eventually brought the go-ahead run to the plate. But that was as close as the Rays would allow.

Video: BAL@TB: Villar drives in 2 on single to left

Cloaked in vintage Devil Rays jerseys to celebrate the organization's 20th anniversary season, Tampa Bay tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh to keep their playoff hopes alive with their sixth win in seven games and 10th straight at home. O's reliever Paul Fry was charged with all three runs, recording just one out.

"Right now, we've got preparation for next year," Villar said. "That's the game right now. … We're losing, but I feel happy because the team never got down. … So for that we are happy."

Hess gave up six runs, though just two were earned. Hess -- who threw 51 pitches in the first two innings -- was able to last five innings plus one batter, an admirable rebound after the early mess. The righty, sporting a shiner after taking a football to the eye on Friday, struggled early on with command.

While Nunez's leadoff throwing error didn't help, Hess also lost control of a pitch, which scored Mallex Smith. The righty gave up four hits in that first inning, before the O's nabbed Jake Bauers -- the other half of the double steal -- at second base to end the frame.

Video: BAL@TB: Adames crosses the plate during a rundown

"I think more than anything, you want to try and keep in mind, these guys are growing and learning just as much as I am," Hess said of dealing with some of the miscues behind him. "When they're out, kind of going through the growing pains as well, keeping that in mind and understanding that this is going to pay off in time to come. So, right now, going through it and just being supportive, being the best teammate I possibly can to those guys because I know that's exactly what they do for me. Just trying to lift them up and pick them up where I can and unfortunately I wasn't able to do that as well today as I needed to."

Putting O's first, Jones again out of lineup

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Davis K's: The Orioles had two outs and men on first and second with Chris Davis at the plate in the seventh inning. But Davis couldn't check his swing on a ball out of the zone fast enough as Jose Alvarado picked up the strikeout to end the inning.

Video: BAL@TB: Alvarado K's Davis, strands 2 in the 7th

HE SAID IT
"I went back and watched the video. More than anything, I got to make better pitches. When that first guy gets on, it's one of those things you have to put behind you and make pitches and find a way to get back on track and make outs." -- Hess, on the first inning

UP NEXT
The Orioles will send rookie Josh Rogers (1-1, 4.35 ERA) to the hill for his third career start on Sunday at Tropicana Field. The Rays will use Ryne Stanek (2-3, 2.65 ERA) as their opener in the finale, with first pitch slated for 1:10 p.m. ET.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Paul Fry, David Hess, Renato Nunez, Jonathan Villar