BALTIMORE (AP) — Jake Arrieta gave up a home run on the first pitch he threw, struggled with his control for much of the game and finally was pulled before getting an out in the sixth inning.
It wasn’t exactly the sharp performance he was hoping for, yet the Orioles right-hander had very few complaints after Baltimore held on for a 5-4 victory over the struggling Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.
Arrieta (1-0) gave up one run, three hits and five walks in five-plus innings to earn his first win since last June 13. He struck out seven during an exhausting 112-pitch effort.
“The win is the biggest part of the night,” he said. “I would have liked to be out there a little bit longer but the pitch count got up. They stuck with me in the sixth, let me go back out, and I just wasn’t able to command the ball then. I might have run out of gas a little bit but I had a lot left in the tank, still.”
Arrieta didn’t have a single 1-2-3 inning and had trouble getting the ball over the plate, but he didn’t give up a run after Desmond Jennings opened the game with a drive over the left-field wall.
“He is the winning pitcher tonight in a major league game against an American League East team,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I’m proud of him for battling through. He had some chances to give in, he didn’t. (After) the first hitter, he came back and gave us a chance to win.”
Matt Wieters homered and Nate McLouth scored twice for the Orioles, who have won five straight at home over the Rays, dating back to last year.
Jim Johnson worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save in six tries.
Tampa Bay trailed 5-1 in the eighth before Kelly Johnson and Evan Longoria connected off Pedro Strop. But the Rays could muster only six hits against Arrieta and five relievers.
Last-place Tampa Bay has lost four straight and seven of eight. Although the Rays scored more runs than they totaled in their previous three games, they went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and are 1 for 34 in that situation over their past eight games.
“I thought it was a great game. I was really pleased with our guys tonight,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Some people might not understand that, but you got to build little bit at a time to get back where you want to be.”
With a 4-9 record, Tampa Bay has matched the worst start in franchise history (2001 and 2005).
“As long as players don’t quit on themselves then we’re in good shape, and we’re not going to do that because I’m not going to do that,” Maddon said. “I like the battle. I like the fight. The work has been great. It’s going to flip.”
Tampa Bay right-hander Roberto Hernandez (0-3) allowed five runs, three earned, and five hits in 5 1-3 innings. Two of his three losses have come against the Orioles.
Jennings’ leadoff homer equaled the Rays’ long-ball total over their previous seven games. It was the first time this season that Baltimore surrendered a first-inning run.
In the bottom half, McLouth walked, stole second and scored on a double by Manny Machado.
Wieters led off the second with a drive to right for a 2-1 lead. He has nine hits this season, two of them homers.
Baltimore added a run in the third when McLouth doubled and scored on a single by Nick Markakis. The inning ended when Chris Davis struck out, then angrily cracked the bat over his knee.
The Orioles made it 5-1 with two unearned runs in the sixth. With the bases loaded and one out, Longoria threw wide of the plate after fielding a grounder to third by J.J. Hardy. That produced a run, and another scored on a groundout by Ryan Flaherty.
Johnson led off the eighth with a homer on a 3-2 pitch. After Ben Zobrist drew a walk, Longoria homered for the second time in two games. Both his extra-base hits this season have been long balls.
NOTES: There was a moment of silence before the game and an increased police presence at Camden Yards in the wake of the deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon. Asked if there might be an uneasy feeling at ballparks now, Maddon said, “I don’t think so. I’d like to believe that is an isolated incident that was planned for that one particular moment. I might be wrong.” … All the players on both teams wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. … Rays SS Yunel Escobar went 0 for 4 and is 4 for 45 (.089) this season. … Nate Moore, who has not allowed a run in two starts this season, pitches for Tampa Bay on Wednesday. Chris Tillman (0-0, 7.00 ERA) takes the mound for Baltimore.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)