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O's growing pains continue in finale vs. Rays

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

ST. PETERSBURG -- The dust has cleared for the Orioles, who traded away six key players in July. What they are left with -- the beginning of a long rebuild -- isn't meant to immediately satisfy. Instead, the O's -- who have called up several young players with more still waiting in the wings -- are dealing with growing pains over the final two months of the season.

There have been plenty over the past eight games. Baltimore -- which eked out a win Wednesday despite five errors -- watched Thursday as newcomer Cody Carroll couldn't preserve a seventh-inning lead in the 5-4 series loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field. It marked the third consecutive game the O's have watched a lead dissipate after the top of the seventh as the team's bullpen -- with the trades of Zach Britton and Brad Brach -- is in as much flux as anywhere else on the roster.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- The dust has cleared for the Orioles, who traded away six key players in July. What they are left with -- the beginning of a long rebuild -- isn't meant to immediately satisfy. Instead, the O's -- who have called up several young players with more still waiting in the wings -- are dealing with growing pains over the final two months of the season.

There have been plenty over the past eight games. Baltimore -- which eked out a win Wednesday despite five errors -- watched Thursday as newcomer Cody Carroll couldn't preserve a seventh-inning lead in the 5-4 series loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field. It marked the third consecutive game the O's have watched a lead dissipate after the top of the seventh as the team's bullpen -- with the trades of Zach Britton and Brad Brach -- is in as much flux as anywhere else on the roster.

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"It's a young guy finding his way. A couple steps forward, a step back. He'll learn from it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Carroll, who endured his first blown save and loss. "He's got a good arm. I really like his competitiveness. I don't know. Got to come up with a better expression than 'not scared.' But he's a confident guy. He'll learn from it. I expect him to be better the next time out.

"I try to keep in mind -- and I think we all should -- that these guys are making Major League debuts and kind of seeing things for the first time. So I try to keep that in mind. But they're going to get a great opportunity here."

The O's, who had briefly taken back the lead on Renato Nunez's homer in the top of the seventh, put Carroll in to replace the lefty Donnie Hart in the bottom half of the frame. A part of the Britton trade with the Yankees, Carroll allowed a leadoff single but got two quick outs to try to quash the threat. But the righty seemingly lost his feel for the strike zone, issuing back-to-back walks to Matt Duffy and Mallex Smith to load the bases.

The next batter, Jake Bauers, hit a ball into the right-center-field gap to score two runs and give the Rays the lead for good.

"Even if you do well, you always want to win," said Nunez, who was claimed off waivers in May and made his O's debut last month. "We lost, so we're disappointed."

Still, Nunez did record his first homer as an Oriole, and second overall this season.

Video: BAL@TB: Nunez gives O's lead with solo homer in 7th

"I hit it pretty well," he said. "Yefry [Ramirez] was telling me he was pushing for that homer, because since I got here I haven't hit one. So I got one today. That was good."

Former Ray Joey Rickard also had a good night, helping the O's jump out to a 3-0 lead with a two-run triple in the second inning. Austin Wynns drove in Rickard with a single off of Tampa Bay opener Hunter Wood.

Video: BAL@TB: Rickard drives a 2-run triple into the gap

Orioles starter David Hess went 5 2/3 innings and allowed three runs -- including a solo homer from Ji-Man Choi -- on four hits and three walks.

"About half [of my starts] have been good, and about half haven't been that good," said Hess, who is 2-6 with a 6.25 ERA in 13 games (11 starts). "I think we're just trying to sway that in the direction of being better. Getting an extended look, that does mean a ton to me, that the team has that belief in me. More than anything, I just want to go out and prove them right, and show that I do belong here and just give the team a chance to win. At the end of the day, that's really what matters more than anything."

"[Hess] got hurt with his changeup tonight, too. Elevated some changeups," Showalter said. "It's not only a young pitcher trying to grow from some things, a couple of them tonight, but also young catchers."

Video: BAL@TB: Hess whiffs Sucre, the side in the 5th inning

SOUND SMART
Thursday marked the 37th time this season the Orioles have held a lead and gone on to lose, the second-most in the Majors behind the Royals. Their 80 losses are the most in Orioles history through 115 games.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Left fielder Trey Mancini made a terrific on-the-run grab in the bottom of the sixth on a deep fly ball from Bauers. While the sacrifice fly tied the game at 3, Mancini recorded the first out of the inning for Hess and prevented an extra-base hit.

Video: BAL@TB: Mancini tracks down a fly ball at the wall

HE SAID IT
"My goal here is to do what's best for the Orioles every day, and for our organization as we go forward. There will be some really good feelings about what could be and what's going to be, and there'll be some times where you know you have to go through some growing pains." -- Showalter

UP NEXT
The Orioles will return home to take on the Red Sox for a weekend set starting at 7:05 p.m. ET Friday. Dylan Bundy (7-10, 4.38 ERA), who held the Rangers to two runs (one earned) over six innings Saturday, will get the ball opposite Boston righty Nathan Eovaldi (5-4, 3.38).

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