As the Tampa Bay Rays packed their bags for an eagerly anticipated trip home, reliever Brandon Gomes emphatically insisted things aren't as bad as they seem for the last-place team in the AL East.
The Rays had just lost to the Baltimore Orioles 10-6 in 10 innings on Thursday night, a fitting end to a 2-7 road swing that began in Texas and included a lamentable sweep by Boston.
"I'm not worried about either side, pitching or hitting," Gomes said. "This is a very talented team and we're going to be fine. We're going to hit our stride, everything's going to click and we're going to win a lot of ballgames."
And perhaps sometime soon, David Price, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, will get his first win of the year. Price was long gone when Matt Wieters hit a game-ending grand slam off Gomes to leave the Rays with a 5-10 record.
Coming into Baltimore, the Rays couldn't hit. Then they scored 16 runs in the three-game series, but lost twice because the pitching was shaky.
"We were pitching well and not hitting and now it's kind of visa versa," manager Joe Maddon said. "We just have to put all the different components together."
Desmond Jennings and Evan Longoria homered for the Rays in the first inning, Jose Molina connected in the sixth and James Loney went deep in the eighth against Darren O'Day to knot the score at 6.
"Offense was fantastic," Maddon said. "We did a lot of good things, but Baltimore outplayed us in this series."
The Orioles have won 17 straight in extra innings, including 16 last season. It's the longest such streak since the Pittsburgh Pirates won 21 in a row between June 8, 1959, and July 1, 1960.
Nick Markakis led off the 10th with a single against Jamey Wright (0-1). Gomes came in to face Manny Machado, who reached on a bunt single that hugged the first base line. Adam Jones followed with a long single to the warning track that eluded right fielder Ben Zobrist, but Markakis held up initially and could only make it to third.
Wieters drove Gomes' next pitch over the right-field wall. It was Baltimore's first game-ending grand slam since Harold Baines did it against the Chicago White Sox on May 4, 1999.
Troy Patton (1-0) worked the 10th for the Orioles.
Price walked off the mound with the lead but remained winless in four starts this season.
The Rays were ahead 5-4 when Price gave up a leadoff double to J.J. Hardy in the seventh inning. Jake McGee then served up a 3-2 pitch that Pearce drove over the left-field wall - his first hit in 16 at-bats this season.
Price gave up five runs and eight hits, striking out six. The left-hander is 0-1 with an uncharacteristic 6.26 ERA.
"It's a frustrating time for myself and this team right now," Price said. "I play this game to win, and most importantly, I want our team to win every fifth day when it's my time to pitch. I'm not helping the team right now so I'll have to make some adjustments and find what works."
Maddon, who used 13 different lineups in the Rays' first 14 games, stayed with the same batting order he used Wednesday night against Orioles starter Chris Tillman.
"I liked our approach against Tillman, so why not run the same group back out there against a very similar pitcher?" Maddon said before the game, referring to Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez.
The Rays scored six runs on 11 hits Wednesday, and they put up those same exact numbers on Thursday - but lost.
Jennings got the Rays started with his second leadoff homer of the series, a drive to left on a 1-2 pitch. Two outs later, Longoria hit his third home run in four games.
A sacrifice fly by Jennings made it 3-0 in the second before Zobrist fouled out with three runners on, leaving the Rays 0 for 12 this season with the bases loaded.
In the bottom half, Chris Davis singled in a run and Nolan Reimold homered to tie the score.
A throwing error by Hardy provided the Rays an unearned run and a 4-3 lead in the third.
After Baltimore put runners on the corners with two outs in the fifth, Machado hit an RBI double off the left-field wall. But Markakis overran third base and was tagged out to end the inning with the score tied at 4.
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