THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BALTIMORE — Having finally rid themselves of an embarrassing losing streak that ended their playoff hopes, the Tampa Bay Rays can turn their attention toward concluding the season on a positive note.
Using a 15-hit attack and an effective pitching performance by David Price, the Rays snapped their 11-game skid Monday night with an 8-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Tampa avoided becoming the first World Series team in history to lose 12 in a row the following year. Rookie Reid Brignac had a career-high four hits — his first big league homer, two doubles and a single — and B.J. Upton also connected for the Rays in their first win since Sept. 2 against Boston.
"Sleep is more tranquil, food tastes better and I like my dog a whole lot more," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
Held to eight runs in their previous seven games, the Rays equalled that amount by the fifth inning. Tampa Bay, which batted .183 during its 11-game skid, hadn’t had as many as 15 hits in a game since Aug. 24 against Toronto.
"It’s important. All this, the whole world revolves around confidence, and our confidence definitely took a hit by these last two weeks," Maddon said. "We have to regenerate our confidence. As we do that, we’re going to start winning."
Price (8-7) gave up four runs, three earned, and seven hits in seven innings. The left-hander allowed four runs and four hits in the first inning, then settled down. He retired 13 straight at one point.
"I tried to keep us where we were at, and the offence obviously did a great job tonight and fought back," Price said. "It kind of gives me a redo. It was very appreciated by me, obviously."
Orioles rookie David Hernandez (4-8) was staked with a 4-1 lead but immediately gave it away and fell to 0-4 in his last six starts. The right-hander yielded five runs and nine hits, including two homers, in three-plus innings. He has surrendered nine home runs over his last 9 2-3 innings.
"It’s easy right now to lose confidence," Hernandez said. "But I have three starts left and there is still time to finish the season off on a good note."
After Tampa Bay got a first-inning run on a sacrifice fly by Ben Zobrist, Baltimore took a 4-1 lead in the bottom half. Price retired the first two batters, then allowed RBI singles to Melvin Mora, Matt Wieters and Luke Scott before another run scored on a throwing error by third baseman Evan Longoria.
The Rays tied it in the second. Upton broke a 2-for-21 skid with a two-single and Brignac homered, a no-doubt drive to right on a 1-0 pitch, before Jason Bartlett and Carl Crawford hit successive doubles.
"The second inning was really unacceptable after you get two quick outs," Hernandez said. "It’s really a downer."
Especially because it allowed Price to recover from his shaky start.
"He probably felt the momentum change greatly to go on their side," Price said. "Once we scored four and they go back out and score three, he’s got to say to himself, ‘Hey, I’ve got to go out there and shut them out because the game’s swinging back in our favour.’ And he did exactly what he had to do."
Upton’s 10th homer gave Tampa Bay a 5-4 lead in the fourth, and a pair of Baltimore errors fuelled a three-run fifth.
Brignac went 4 for 4 with a career-high three RBIs in his finest game as a major leaguer.
"I’m very excited, but I’m more happy that we got the win," he said. "It got us back on the right path of where we were. It’s just good to come in and get that win. Now let’s see if we can continue on."
Notes: The Orioles have given up a first-inning run in six straight games and eight of the last nine. … It was the first time in eight games that Tampa Bay scored more than two runs. … Brignac’s homer came in his 67th at-bat. … Mora played his 793rd game at third base, second-most in Orioles history behind Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson (2,870).