The Baltimore Orioles won Wednesday's game late because the Tampa Bay Rays lost it early.
Sure, Rays rookie Rich Thompson ran himself into a rally-killing out in the ninth inning when he over-ran third base and fell victim to a crafty fake throw to first by Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, himself a rookie.
And, yes the game ended in the bottom of the inning when Machado raced home from second base as Nate McLouth's single bounced off the right field wall for a 3-2 victory.
But the Rays inability to take advantage of one, two, three, four, five scoring opportunities hurt more than what transpired in the ninth inning.
"We had a lot of opportunities to score many more runs than we had," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We should have scored more than two runs."
As a result, the Rays fell another game behind the Orioles and now trail the O's and the Yankees by three games in the American League East standings heading into this afternoon's series finale at Camden Yards.
"We got to win (today)," center fielder B.J. Upton said. "We felt like we had to win (Wednesday), but the reality is we got to win (today). We got no choice. To end up where we want to be, we have to win (today) and definitely win the series in New York (this weekend)."
The Rays left 10 runners on base, including seven in the last four innings. They were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They left the bases-loaded in the sixth inning and stranded Upton at second in the seventh inning after he drew a leadoff walk and stole second.
"That's typical," Maddon said. "That's why we're several games behind first place now."
Wednesday played out like many of the Rays losses this season – great pitching, at least from the bullpen, and no hitting. Or at least no hits when one would turn the game in their favor.
"In the past we've been a great team in one-run ball games and close ball games," Upton said. "This year it's not working out that way. Bottom line is we got to find a way, and right now it's not working for us, but we'll keep on it and we'll figure it out."
The Rays have now lost 12 of their last 15 one-run games.
The Orioles, on the other hand, are 26-7 this season in one-run games.
After Tuesday's 9-2 loss Maddon said the Rays had to match the Orioles' intensity.
It looked as if they would when Upton smacked the second pitch of the game from Miguel Gonzalez deep into the left field seats for a 1-0 lead and a couple of one-out walks put the Rays in position to score more runs.
But, in what would be the theme for the night, the scoring chance went away when Ben Francisco lined into an inning-ending double play.
The Rays put runners on first and second with one out in the second inning, but Jose Molina ended the threat when he bounced into a 5-3 double play.
They had an excellent chance in the top of the sixth when Francisco singled with one out and Carlos Peña drew a walk. Gonzalez balked, moving the runners up a base.
Roberts looked at strike three, but with first base open, Orioles manager Buck Showalter had Gonzalez intentionally walk Matt Joyce.
That brought Molina to the plate, and Gonzalez quickly got ahead 1-2. With all 26,076 fans at Camden Yards on their feet, Molina managed to foul off one pitch before grounding out to first base.
"We got to find a way to score a run there," Maddon said.
The final chance came in the ninth inning when Jeff Keppinger singled with one out. Thompson pinch-ran and stole second. With two out, Evan Longoria hit a slow roller up the third base line. Machado bare-handed the ball and faked a throw to first. Thompson fell for it and rounded the bag. He didn't see third base coach Tom Foley telling him to stop at third base and was tagged out in a run-down.
"When it comes down to it, it was a pretty big play in the game," Thompsons said. "If I picked up Foley sooner we would have had first and third. … There's a lot of ways to score from third base."
Maddon said Thompson would have scored had Machado made the throw to first, so he was not going to fault Thompson.
"Longo's safe, Thompson's safe at home. It's a great play," Maddon said. "Their third baseman made a better play."
Maddon said the game was lost in the early innings when the Rays let the scoring opportunities slip away.
"It should not have come down to that last inning," Maddon said. "There's a lot of people who had their hand in that game and who could have altered it early."