ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Eleven days after he was released by the Baltimore Orioles, Steve Pearce was a huge reason they beat Tampa Bay.
Pearce hit a two-run homer and made a game-saving defensive play Thursday night in Baltimore’s 3-1 victory over the Rays.
Pearce, who re-signed with the Orioles two days after his April 27 release, hit his second homer in three games. Ubaldo Jimenez (2-4) won his second straight start as Baltimore completed a three-game sweep.
The home run by Pearce came off David Price after J.J. Hardy’s double in the second inning. Playing first base in place of injured slugger Chris Davis, Pearce also made an outstanding stretch to catch a throw from Hardy that completed an inning-ending double play in the fifth.
“Stevie may have made the defensive play of the night,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
Rays manager Joe Maddon challenged the call, but the ruling that Pearce kept his foot on the bag was confirmed after a 2-minute review.
“The bases were loaded at the time, so if that got past me it could have cleared the bases,” said Pearce, who had to wait for the replay decision to be sure the call was right. “It happened so fast and when you look, you’re not on the bag anymore, so it depends on what happens.”
Nick Markakis extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single in the Baltimore third.
Evan Longoria hit a two-out RBI single in the first off Jimenez, who pitched 5 1-3 innings for his second win after going 0-4 in his first month with the Orioles.
“I’m really happy April is gone,” Jimenez said. “Now it’s May and everything is good.”
Singles by Adam Jones, Pearce and Jonathan Schoop produced Baltimore’s final run in the fourth.
Darren O’Day worked the ninth for his second save.
The Rays have scored only eight runs in losing five straight games to Baltimore. They left 11 runners on base in this one.
“Our goal right now is to figure out a way to get through it,” Longoria said. “We all want to win. We all want to do our part. When it doesn’t work out, it’s definitely frustrating.”
Price (3-3) gave up nine hits and three runs while striking out three in five-plus innings. It was the 16th time in their last 23 games that a Rays starting pitcher has failed to pitch into the sixth inning.
Tampa Bay pitching coach Jim Hickey was ejected in the first inning for arguing a checked swing by Jones.
NOTES: Baltimore C Matt Wieters was the designated hitter, one day after having his sore right elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews. No timeframe has been announced for when Wieters, who took pregame grounders at first base, will resume catching. … Davis (strained left oblique) could be ready for a short minor league rehab assignment next week. … Showalter will attend his son’s graduation from TCU on Saturday, but expects to be back for the night game against Houston. He will miss the May 17 game at Kansas City to attend his daughter’s law school graduation at SMU. … The Orioles begin a six-game homestand Friday night with LHP Wei-Yin Chen (3-2) facing Houston RHP Scott Feldman (2-1).
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