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Rays

Rays hold on for victory in Baltimore

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Published:   |   Updated: May 18, 2013 at 12:22 AM
BALTIMORE -

Manager Joe Maddon said Joel Peralta does a lot of the heavy lifting around the team, some of it behind the scenes that goes unnoticed, and some of it on the mound with the game on the line for all to see.
 
Maddon asked Peralta to lift a boulder off the chest of the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth inning Friday night.
 
Another big lead was gone. The Baltimore Orioles smelled the kind of comeback that makes for championship seasons.
 
It was hard to exhale in the visitors' dugout.
 
And Peralta came through.
 
He quelled the uprising by retiring all four batters he faced and earned a save in the Rays' 12-10 victory against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
 
“We'll take it,” Maddon said.
 
After the way Thursday night's game imploded in the ninth inning, when closer Fernando Rodney blew a two-run lead by walking three batters and allowed a two-out, two-strike, three-run double, the Rays were not about to get picky.
 
“You're trying to get outs and do damage control. You're just trying to get the win at that point,” left fielder Kelly Johnson said of Rays' mind-set during the Orioles' six-run eighth-inning rally. “Peralta threw four big outs. We celebrate a win no matter what it looks like. Try to think about the positives, not the negatives, and we scored enough runs to win the game.”
 
That, they did — a season-high 12, the product of a 17-hit attack.
 
The Rays were 6-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
 
They bounced back from a 3-1 deficit in the second inning with a four-run third, with the last three runs coming on a two-out homer by Johnson.
 
They added on to the lead with a four-run fifth and a three-run sixth.
 
Everyone in the lineup had a hit. Johnson had three and drove in four runs. So did Yunel Escobar, who drove in three.
 
Evan Longoria extended his hit streak to 11 games.
 
It added up to an eight-run cushion for starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.
 
The right-hander has had his problems lately, giving up leads in his last four starts leading up to Friday's game.
 
He blew a 1-0 lead in the first inning, though that is hardly a sin.
 
Not being able to breeze through the eighth inning with an eight-run lead is another story.
 
“He did a nice job, and he should have been able to pitch through the eighth inning, and then we'd have a nice ninth inning,” Maddon said.
 
Didn't happen.
 
Hellickson allowed a leadoff triple to hitter Nate McLouth. It hardly seemed a problem when McLouth scored on a grounder.
 
But with two outs and a runner on first, Hellickson allowed a double to Chris Davis and a two-run single to Matt Wieters after having Wieters down 0-2.
 
Maddon had seen enough. Hellickson's pitch count was at 102, and the Orioles were playing with the confidence that enabled them to win a lot of games late during their 2012 playoff run.
 
Maddon didn't want to use Rodney, who threw 35 pitches Thursday. Maddon figured he could give Peralta a night off once the Rays extended their lead to 12-4. Maddon had Rodney warming while the Rays batted in the ninth.
 
First out of the bullpen was Kyle Farnsworth, and he allowed a single and then a three-run homer to Chris Dickerson that cut the Rays' lead to 12-10. After an infield single that brought the tying run to the plate, Maddon called for Peralta.
 
Peralta got McLouth to fly out to Johnson in left.
 
He retired Manny Machado, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones on fly balls in the ninth to reel in the win that almost got away.
 
Hellickson became the first Rays pitcher since Victor Zambrano to earn a win despite allowing eight earned runs.
 
“Big, man, big,” Peralta said when asked how big was it for the Rays not to blow another lead. “We've been shaky a couple of times, and we're kind of getting back to what we really think we can do, hold the lead for the guys who win this game. The guys have been doing a great job, so (this) was really special for me.”


rmooney@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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