BALTIMORE (AP) — Wei-Yin Chen had plenty of time in the dugout to think about what went wrong against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Chen yielded three home runs during the shortest outing of his big league career, and the early deficit proved too much for the Baltimore Orioles to overcome in a 5-4 defeat Saturday.
Chen (7-3) gave up a season-high five runs, seven hits and a pair of walks in 3 1/3 innings. The Taiwanese left-hander was 4-0 in nine starts since May 3 and 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two games against Tampa Bay.
None of that mattered following one of the worst performances of his three-year career with Baltimore. His fourth pitch was hit into the left-field seats by Desmond Jennings, and things went downhill from there.
“I knew that from the beginning I wasn’t able to pinpoint my pitches well, locating my pitches in the zone, and I started to think too much about a lot of things,” Chen said through a translator. “I wasn’t really locating like I am supposed to be.”
Of the 15 home runs Chen has yielded this season, five have come against the light-hitting Rays. Tampa Bay started the day tied for 25th in the majors with 59 home runs and hit only two in its previous nine games.
“For every game, you don’t want to give up any home runs,” Chen said. “Lately, I’ve been leaving more pitches up in the zone. Maybe the opponent hitters are studying me more than they used to, so if I didn’t make the adjustment necessary, the results are going to look bad. So I’m going to look at that.”
Tampa Bay used two-run homers by Logan Forsythe and rookie Kevin Kiermaier to build a five-run cushion in the fourth inning, then held off a late comeback bid to improve to 3-8 against the Orioles this season.
Nick Markakis and Manny Machado homered for the Orioles, who have a major league-leading 40 long balls in June. But it wasn’t enough to beat the last-place Rays, who can win the four-game series with a victory Sunday.
Former Oriole Erik Bedard (4-5) struck out seven in a season-high seven-plus innings. The 35-year-old lefty gave up three runs and five hits against the team he began his career with in 2002.
He walked none, and 68 of his 87 pitches were strikes.
“That’s probably the best strike-ball ratio I’ve ever thrown in my life,” Bedard said. “The biggest thing was the first-pitch strikes and after that, I continued to throw strikes. I mixed in fastball, changeup, curveball and I came out on top.”
He was pulled after giving up a two-run homer to Manny Machado in the eighth.
Adam Jones added an RBI single off Jake McGee, who subsequently retired Nelson Cruz with two outs and runners on the corners. McGee returned in the ninth to earn his third save — the second in two days.
The Rays got all the offense they needed at Chen’s expense. After Jennings hit his seventh career leadoff homer to give Tampa Bay the lead for good, Sean Rodriguez singled with one out in the second and Forsythe followed with his first home run in 142 at-bats this season. Forsythe went 3 for 3 with a walk and scored twice.
Tampa Bay made it 5-0 in the fourth when Forsythe singled and Kiermaier drove a 1-2 pitch into the right-field bleachers. It was the fifth home run of the season for Kiermaier and the first by a left-hander against Chen.
Bedard retired 10 straight batters before Markakis homered in the sixth.
NOTES: Miguel Gonzalez will start for Baltimore in the series finale against RHP Alex Cobb, who has held the Orioles to a .176 batting average throughout his career. … Tampa Bay SS Yunel Escobar missed his fourth straight game with a sore shoulder. … Orioles RHP Dylan Bundy, returning from elbow surgery, will make his fourth rehab start Thursday, this time with Class-A Frederick. … Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson, trying to come back from elbow surgery, ended his rehab start with Triple-A Durham on Friday night after three innings, complaining of discomfort. Rays manager Joe Maddon suggested Hellickson might return to Florida for an examination.