ST. PETERSBURG — One-run games at Tropicana Field have long since become routine.
Which doesn't preclude them from still being riveting.
The big league's purveyors of close shaves, the Rays rallied from an early three-run hole for a 5-4 triumph Thursday against the Orioles before an announced crowd of 10,254 at Tropicana Field.
It was their franchise-record-tying sixth consecutive one-run game (they're 2-4 in that stretch). It also was their majors-leading 49th one-run game of the season (22-27).
"Obviously the wins and losses aren't there in the past six games here, but we've been in every ball game," said rookie first baseman Jake Bauers, who provided the winning RBIs with a two-out, bases-loaded single to right-center in the seventh. "I think that's been the key for us."
Right-hander Yonny Chirinos logged his second consecutive five-inning stint to notch his first big-league victory.
Helping preserve it in the ninth was rookie second baseman Brandon Lowe, who dove for a Trey Mancini roller up the middle, recovered, then skipped the ball (several hops) to Bauers for the second out of the inning.
"My bat's not really doing it right now," said Lowe, still hitless in 10 big-league at-bats. "I figured if I'm not getting any hits, I might as well take some away."
Sergio Romo, who had a blown save in Wednesday's loss to the Orioles, then struck out Renato Nunez for his 14th save.
"Yonny was outstanding," manager Kevin Cash said. "That's two back-to-back outings where he's been very efficient. … And then (Jose) Alvarado (scoreless eighth) and Sergio (scoreless ninth) do their thing."
The dazzling end offset a demoralizing start for the Rays against the team with the worst record (35-80) in baseball.
After a scoreless first inning, opener Hunter Wood allowed three runs on four hits in the second, the most damaging a two-run triple by No. 8 batter Joey Rickard, whose mesmerizing ownership of Rays pitching surges onward. Fifteen of Rickard's 20 RBIs this season have come against Tampa Bay.
The Rays (58-57) got a run back in the third on Matt Duffy's two-out double off Orioles rookie David Hess, who retired the first eight batters he faced. Mallex Smith, who preceded Duffy with a walk, tried to score from first, but second baseman Jonathan Villar's relay throw to the plate easily beat him for the out.
Ji-Man Choi's two-out solo home run in the fourth — snapping a 1-for-17 skid — made it a one-run game, and Bauers' sacrifice fly to the leftfield warning track in the sixth, which brought in Smith, tied the score.
Nunez's leadoff homer in the seventh, only the second of his career, gave Baltimore a 4-3 lead.
Bauers followed with his ninth career go-ahead hit, smacking the first pitch he saw from right-handed reliever Cody Carroll.
And another game of ebb and flow — or nip and tuck, take your pick — unfolded.
"Obviously it would have been easy to get jumpy and jump on something," Bauers said. "But I tried to put a good swing on something and luckily I got a line drive."
Contact Joey Knight at [email protected]