WJTV News Channel 12 - Baltimore Orioles win opening day game over Tampa Bay 7-4

Baltimore Orioles win opening day game over Tampa Bay 7-4

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FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer

    
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Baltimore played like a confident bunch that's left 2012 behind and is intent on proving a surprising breakthrough season wasn't a fluke.
    
Adam Jones keyed a seventh-inning rally with a go-ahead double and Chris Davis followed with a three-run homer Tuesday to help the Orioles launch their quest to return to the playoffs with a 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
    
"Today starts a long journey together, and I'm curious as everybody else to see where it takes us," manager Buck Showalter said.
    
"The season wouldn't have ended if we lost today, and it wouldn't end if we lose tomorrow, or if we win. That's what I keep challenging our guys about," he added. "This is a great group for staying in the moment, staying in reality."
    
Matt Wieters homered early off AL Cy Young Award winner David Price and later drew an intentional walk from reliever Jake McGee (0-1) before Davis' towering shot over the right-field wall broke open the game and silenced a sellout crowd of 34,078 at Tropicana Field.
    
Jason Hammel (1-0) allowed three runs and three hits in six innings. Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.
    
"Last season is over, and everybody in the clubhouse has moved on to this year," Wieters said. "It's a good team win. Ham went out there and battled for us. He was able to get us through six innings and turn it over to the bullpen, which is the recipe we want to use."
    
Despite giving up a two-run homer to Wieters in the first inning and not being particularly sharp in his second career opening day start, Price departed with a 3-2 lead after the Rays scored twice in the sixth.
    
Ben Zobrist hit a solo homer for Tampa Bay in the fourth, then put his team ahead with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Desmond Jennings drove in the Rays' other run with a sixth-inning double.
    
Showalter put the game into the hands of his trusted relievers after the five-run seventh. Darren O'Day allowed an unearned run in the eighth before Johnson, last year's major league saves leader, finished the combined six-hitter.
    
"I think we did a lot of really good things today," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Our defense was fantastic. ... David getting through six innings without having his best stuff and coming out of the game at 100 pitches with a 3-2 lead. ... Those were nice things. They just got us in one inning."
    
Both teams enter the season with expectations of contending for the AL East title. The Rays have won at least 90 games four of the past five years, while the Orioles stopped a stretch of 14 consecutive losing seasons by winning 93 games and making the playoffs a year ago, when they finished second in the division behind the New York Yankees.
    
Price is the leader of a deep rotation that kept Tampa Bay in the race despite offensive deficiencies in 2012. The 27-year-old left-hander became the first Tampa Bay pitcher to win 20 games, going 12-1 with a 2.26 ERA over his last 18 starts to edge Detroit's Justin Verlander by four points in the Cy Young balloting.
    
The Orioles hopped on the Rays' ace early. Jones doubled with two outs in the first, then scored on the second opening day homer of Wieters' career. Baltimore's two-time All-Star catcher also homered in an opening day loss to Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field three years ago.
    
Hammel limited the Rays to Zobrist's first-inning single until the Tampa Bay second baseman homered on a 3-2 pitch to trim the Orioles' lead to 2-1 in the fourth.
    
Kelly Johnson drew a leadoff walk in the sixth, when the Rays pulled even on Jennings' RBI double and took a 3-2 lead on Zobrist's sacrifice fly.
    
Price scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out two over six innings. He escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting Davis to hit into an inning-ending double play in the third and pitched his way through potentially troublesome spots in the fourth and sixth after giving up leadoff doubles to J.J. Hardy and Wieters.
    
"I really don't think I ever settled into that game at all. It's a very tough team, offensively and defensively," Price said. "And the way Hammel threw the ball - and the bullpen is very good - giving them two runs in the first inning is something you try to stay away from."
    
Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, a pair of players back in Baltimore's lineup after missing sizable portions of last season with injuries, got the Orioles going against McGee with one-out singles in the seventh.
    
Manny Machado struck out before Jones hit an 0-2 pitch into the gap in left-center for a two-run double that put Baltimore back on top. The left-handed hitting Davis homered on the first pitch after the intentional walk to Wieters.
    
"It's really tough, especially in a situation like that where you've just taken the lead and get the momentum," McGee said. "Even if I walk Adam Jones right there, we'd still have the lead by one. ... When I know I've got to make one pitch, I've got to be not as anxious to get that pitch done."
    
NOTES: Rays senior adviser Don Zimmer, who's beginning his 65th season in pro baseball, was joined by his family for the ceremonial first pitch. The 82-year-old former Cubs and Red Sox manager is in his 10th season in the Tampa Bay organization. His son, Tom, a scout for the San Francisco Giants, delivered the pitch. ... It's the sixth time, including three of the past four years, that the Orioles and Rays have opened the season against each other. ... The 20-year-old Machado, Baltimore's third baseman, joined Brooks Robinson, Ron Hansen and Boog Powell as the only players to make opening day starts for the Orioles at age 20 or younger. Robinson did it twice, starting at age 19 in 1957 and at 20 the following year.

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