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Gausman stumbles as O's can't hold early lead

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

ST. PETERSBURG -- Consistently inconsistent.

Orioles third baseman Danny Valencia said it best.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Consistently inconsistent.

Orioles third baseman Danny Valencia said it best.

View Full Game Coverage

It has been the story of this frustrating start to the season for the Orioles, who on Sunday watched typically reliable starter Kevin Gausman turn in his worst performance of the season in a 8-3 series loss to the Rays.

The O's, owners of the worst road record in the Majors, head into Memorial Day -- the self-imposed deadline of assessing this club by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette -- 17-36 and in the American League East cellar.

Will there be changes coming? Perhaps. But those in the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field can't worry about what may happen.

"I hope guys aren't worried about the future," said first baseman Chris Davis, who drove in one of the first-inning runs. "I want them focused on this club, the things we're doing well, not the things that we're doing wrong, and trying to go out there and get a win.

"This game is hard, whether you're a 10-year vet or you've been in the big leagues 10 days. You're constantly making adjustments. That's what it's about. And for us as a team we have to stick together. We have to stay close and continue to pick each other up."

Video: BAL@TB: Davis opens the scoring with a sacrifice fly

Sunday's defeat caps a 4-7 road trip in which the O's got some impressive starting pitching performances -- like a complete game from Dylan Bundy and 6 2/3 scoreless innings from rookie David Hess -- and outings like Gausman's, who went a season-low 2 2/3 innings and allowed a season-high seven runs.

Consistently inconsistent.

"We've pitched well this year and on the other side [with the offense] not really done much. And also had the other side of it, too," Gausman said of the O's woes. "It's frustrating, you always want to kind of one-up the next guy [in the rotation] and we did a good job in Chicago of doing that. Obviously here, me and [Saturday's starter Andrew] Cashner let two games get away from us."

The O's keep preaching the need to turn a corner. But to do that they'll have to put together a much longer, much more consistent stretch. And they'll need a lot more to show from their lineup. For the 10th time in 12 games, Baltimore's bats scored three or fewer runs, jumping out to an early 3-0 lead on Rays reliever Sergio Romo in the first inning.

Video: BAL@TB: Gentry lays down an RBI bunt single

But they couldn't get anything going after Romo, who recorded just one out, left the game. Baltimore had just six hits combined after that off of righty Austin Pruitt and lefty Vidal Nuno.

Gausman, who had quality starts in three of four games entering the finale, ran into serious trouble in a six-run third inning. After a leadoff walk and a single by No. 9 batter Rob Refsnyder, Brad Miller -- who hit a solo homer in the first -- doubled both runs in and Gausman gave up the go-ahead RBI single to Joey Wendle. The O's righty struggled with his command all afternoon, hitting two batters and walking two more as Tampa Bay scored two more on Christian Arroyo's single to end Gausman's afternoon.

Video: BAL@TB: Wright freezes Miller to escape a jam

Mike Wright tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Gausman, with Rule 5 pick Pedro Araujo allowing a homer to Carlos Gomez in the bottom of the seventh.

"We put up a three-spot in the first inning, I feel pretty good about our chances," Gausman said. "I need to do a better job of going out there and shutting the door from the get-go. … It's frustrating, but we have to find that consistency."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Wendle, Oriole Menace: The Rays' second baseman continued to be a thorn in the Orioles' side, delivering the go-ahead RBI and giving Tampa Bay a lead it would never relinquish in the third. The rookie sent Gausman's full-count four-seamer into left field to score two runs.

"Got into a lot of situations where I had the advantage, had the hitter right where I needed to and just needed to execute the pitch," Gausman said. "And I wasn't able to on a lot of guys. Obviously 51 pitches in one inning is not going to allow you to [go deep]."

Video: BAL@TB: Wendle lines an RBI single into left field

HE SAID IT
"The biggest thing for us is to kind of look at the road trip and try to take the positive away. We had a great offensive game in Chicago, a day when Dylan pitched outstanding and it was really one of the days that we really put it all together and showed how capable we are of being good. … But I think just the losses late in the game, having to bring guys in who haven't thrown in several days, they're tough. And they take a toll on a team, not only physically but mentally. So we need to go back over the positives and keep the focus on that." - Davis

UP NEXT
Baltimore will return home to host the Nationals for a three-game set starting at 1:05 p.m. ET on Monday. Alex Cobb, the Orioles' big spring acquisition, will take the mound opposite Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez. Cobb took the loss in his last outing, allowing six earned runs on eight hits and two walks over 3 2/3 innings. He is 1-6 on the year with a 7.32 ERA.

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

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