ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's "opener" struggled Thursday night. Fortunately for the Rays, their "follower" got the job done in a 5-4 win over Orioles at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay's win allowed the Rays to finish their homestand with a 5-4 mark, moving the team to 58-57 for the season.
Hunter Wood opened for the Rays and allowed three runs in the second to put the Rays in a 3-0 hole. Yonny Chirinos followed Wood, and the Rays' fortunes changed.
The rookie right-hander held the Orioles to one run on three hits while striking out four in five innings to earn his first Major League win.
"Probably a frustrating outing for Hunter," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Came out of the gate really letting it go, and they quickly made some adjustments against him. His two-strike location wasn't at its best, for whatever reason. After that … Yonny was outstanding. That's two back-to-back outings where he's been very efficient. Tempo's been outstanding."
Chirinos had a tough outing at Baltimore on July 29, allowing three earned runs in three innings. He has since sped up his tempo, enjoying good results over the weekend against the White Sox, and then again against the Orioles on Thursday night.
"I was pitching real slow, the timing was off, the mechanics and everything there," Chirinos said through an interpreter. "But I made the adjustment since then, and I think it's benefited me."
First baseman Jake Bauers noted how Chirinos seemed to calm the Rays in the series finale.
"He came in and kept the tempo up," Bauers said. "Pumping strikes and obviously keeping us in the ballgame the whole way."
Bauers put the Rays up 5-4 with a two-run single in the seventh. Jose Alvarado then pitched a scoreless eighth and, a night after blowing a save, Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless ninth.
"We're taught to have short memories and forget the day before," Romo said. "You take bits and pieces from the day before, and you don't completely forget them. But more or less, you forget the outcome regardless of if it's good or not."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Willy Adames singled to lead off the Rays' seventh before Mallex Smith and Matt Duffy drew consecutive two-out walks to load the bases for Bauers, who swung at the first pitch he saw from Cody Carroll, a 96-mph fastball. The rookie first baseman lined the ball into the right-center-field gap to score two, putting Tampa Bay ahead to stay.
"I was just looking for something I could handle and hit a line drive," said Bauers, who drove in three runs Thursday night. "It would have been easy to kind of get jumpy and kind of jump at something. But I just tried to put a good swing on something and luckily got a line drive."
The Rays have played six consecutive one-run games for the second time in franchise history. They join the Mariners as the second team to do that this season. Tampa Bay's past six games have been decided in the seventh inning or later.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Rookie second baseman Brandon Lowe made a diving backhanded stop of a Trey Mancini shot up the middle, and threw to first for the second out of the ninth.
"He makes that play," Romo said. "That's a tip-of-the-cap moment."
HE SAID IT
"Maybe some young pitchers might have some hiccups, but Sergio doesn't think too much of it. He knows that if he makes his pitches, he is going to have success." -- Cash, on Romo nailing down the save
Blake Snell (12-5, 2.27 ERA) will start Friday when the Rays open a three-game series against the Blue Jays at 7:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre in Toronto. Snell will make his second start since returning from the DL (left-shoulder fatigue), so he's still stretching himself out. He pitched four innings against the White Sox on Saturday, allowing one run on three hits and two walks. Right-hander Marco Estrada (5-8, 4.65) will start for the Blue Jays.