The Game: The Tampa Bay Rays dropped a close game to the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 on Thursday at Charlotte Sports Park. The game remained tied through much of the contest with the Orioles squeaking out the win in the ninth inning.
The Rays took the lead early in the first inning. Carl Crawford singled to center with one out to put a runner aboard. Evan Longoria then cleared the bases with a two run homer, his fifth of the spring, giving the Rays a 2-0 lead.
The Orioles fought back to take the lead in the fifth inning. Craig Tatum drew a walk to get things started. Rober Andino followed with a two run homer to tie the game. Then Felix Pie doubled to left field and later scored the go ahead run on an RBI single by Ty Wigginton to give Baltimore a 3-2 lead.
Tampa Bay tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kelly Shoppach led off the inning by drawing a walk. Shoppach advanced to third on a double by Jason Bartlett. Ben Zobrist drove home the run with a sac fly to tie the game 3-3.
The game remained tied until the top of the ninth inning. Brandon Waring drew awalk and then was replaced by pinch runner Jason White. Adam Donachie singled and Joey Gathright drew a walk to load the bases. Wigginton plated the winning run with a sacrifice fly to score White and give the Orioles a 4-3 win.
Mike Ekstrom pitched 3 shut-out innings, allowing 1 hit and striking out 3. Carlos Hernandez followed and allowed 3 runs on 6 hits with 4 strikeouts and 3 walks. Dane De La Rosa suffered the loss, giving up 1 run on 1 hit with a strikeout and 2 walks.
RP Top Prospect Watch:
Reid Brignac: 1 for 1.
A Look Ahead: The Rays (19-8-2) travel north to their home confines of Tropicana Field for an exhibition game against the New York Mets on Friday. Matt Garza will be making the start for the Rays at the Trop.