Orioles deal blow to Rays' playoff hopes

BALTIMORE -- The Tampa Bay Rays couldn't hide their disappointment after losing another game to last-place Baltimore.

The Rays botched an excellent opportunity to gain ground in the wild-card race, getting only three hits over seven innings against Jeremy Guthrie in a 6-2 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday night.

After watching Boston lose to Toronto in an afternoon game, the Rays took the field with a chance to close within three games of the Red Sox in the AL wild-card hunt.

Instead, they lost a second straight game to the team with the second-worst record in the American League.

"They shut us down for two games. We can't permit that to happen," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.

Especially against the pitcher with the most losses in baseball. Guthrie (8-17) tied a career high with 10 strikeouts and allowed only two runs to win a second consecutive start for the first time this season.

"We have to figure out a way to get it done," Maddon said. "We can't miss out on these opportunities."

Next up for the Rays: Four games against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, beginning Thursday night. Tampa Bay swept a three-game series from Boston last weekend and is 9-5 against the Red Sox, including 4-1 on the road.

"Let's get out of here and get up there, get our mojo back," Maddon said.

Wade Davis (10-9) gave up a three-run homer to Chris Davis and a solo shot to Nolan Reimold. Wade Davis, who allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, is 4-1 in six career starts at Camden Yards.

Matt Wieters added a two-run shot in the eighth off Matt Moore, who was making his major league debut. It was Wieters' 20th home run, the third in three games.

"Obviously, we wanted this win and last night," Rays center fielder B.J. Upton said. "But we're going into Boston for four, so we need to flush this one as quickly as we can."

If the Rays fall short in their bid to reach the playoffs, they can blame either a 1-8 start or their 9-9 record against the Orioles, who are 14-33 against the rest of the AL East.

"These guys have our number right now. They have played us well all year," Maddon said.

Guthrie improved to 6-10 lifetime against Tampa Bay, 2-3 this season. He also beat the Rays on Opening Day.

"He just kept the ball down and didn't leave it over the middle of plate," Upton said. "He has always had good stuff and he showed that today."

Jim Johnson worked the final two innings for his sixth save, the second in two nights.

Guthrie retired the first eight batters before Reid Brignac singled in the third. Reimold opened the bottom half with his 10th home run, a low-flying line drive that glanced off the top of the left-field wall and into the seats.

The lead didn't last long. Guthrie walked two of the first three batters in the fourth and Matt Joyce cleared the bases with a two-out double.

In the Baltimore half, Vladimir Guerrero beat out a slow roller to third, Wieters doubled and Chris Davis hit an opposite-field homer to left on an 0-2 pitch for a 4-2 lead.

That was enough to saddle the Rays with another distressing defeat.

"Every time you lose a game it is a lost opportunity," Rays designated hitter Johnny Damon said. "Just because it is Baltimore, we didn't let up at all. The home run ball helped them out tonight, as well as last night."

Tampa Bay's final threat came in the seventh. Damon drew a leadoff walk and took second on a single by Joyce before Guthrie sandwiched two strikeouts around a fly ball by John Jaso.

Guthrie was more delighted about playing a part in beating the Rays than he was in earning a rare win.

"We matched up well at the plate, we pitched well and got some big hits," the right-hander said. "It's a nice series."

Game notes
Rays OF Sam Fuld left in the fifth inning with a wrist injury. ... Tampa Bay recalled LHP Alex Torres from Triple-A Durham and purchased the contract of 1B Dan Johnson from Durham, giving the team 34 players in uniform. ... The Rays' rotation for the Boston series: Jeremy Hellickson (12-10), James Shields (15-10), Jeff Niemann (10-7) and David Price (12-12). Tampa Bay has held the Red Sox to a .177 batting average, including .158 in Boston. ... Orioles CF Adam Jones (thumb) hopes to return Friday after missing a fifth straight start. He entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth. ... After a day off Thursday, the Orioles resume play Friday against another playoff hopeful, the Los Angeles Angels. Tommy Hunter (3-4) starts for Baltimore against Dan Haren (15-8).