Jones, O's let one slip away

Misplay in center, quiet bats end homestand with loss

Rays 4 Orioles 2

May 02, 2008|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN REPORTER

There will be good days and bad days for Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, a byproduct of his youth and inexperience. And sometimes, they'll come in the same afternoon.

Jones hit a game-tying, two-run homer in the fourth inning yesterday, but his error in the seventh contributed to a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays before an announced 16,456 at Camden Yards that prevented the Orioles from holding at least a share of second place in the American League East.

Shawn Riggans walked and Jason Bartlett followed with a single off starter Brian Burres. The ball deflected off Jones' glove and rolled away from him, allowing both runners to take an extra base with no outs. Jamie Walker entered the game and struck out Akinori Iwamura, but Carl Crawford lined a two-run single to left-center field.

"I just missed the ball. In between hops and I missed it," Jones said. "It can't happen in that situation. I know what I did wrong. I'm not going to say it's never going to happen, but I'm going to be aggressive with every ball, so I'm not really dwelling on it."

It'll be awhile before he returns to the scene.

The Orioles (15-13) boarded a charter flight yesterday to Anaheim, Calif., where they'll begin a three-city road trip with three games against the Los Angeles Angels. Once they return home, they'll have played 17 of 20 away from Camden Yards.

Who knows where they'll be in the standings? The series began with the Orioles and Rays tied for first place. They shared second yesterday, one game behind the Boston Red Sox, before Crawford's clutch hit.

"We've got to go there and play .500 ball or better on the road," Jones said.

Jones hit his second home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth inning that erased a 2-0 deficit. Rays starter Matt Garza (1-0) had retired 11 of 12 batters since Brian Roberts' leadoff single in the first, but Jones jumped on a hanging slider and drove it into the left-field seats.

That was the extent of the Orioles' scoring, and the last of their three hits, as the offense produced only a walk over the last 17 batters. Dan Wheeler tossed two perfect innings and Troy Percival registered his sixth save with a routine ninth.

"We'll go through struggles as a team. There's no problem with that," Jones said. "We've got to go on the road and play good baseball, and that's all you can do. Just hit our pitch. There's no panic in this locker room."

There needs to be a little more offense or quality starts will go unrewarded. Burres (3-2) ignored a steady rain that fell for much of the game, perhaps because it felt like a refreshing mist compared to the weather in Chicago during the Orioles' last road series. He surrendered a run in the first inning, which qualified as a newsworthy event, given that he hadn't been scored upon in his previous two starts spanning 13 2/3 innings.

Crawford walked with one out, advanced on B.J. Upton's double and scored on a Carlos Pena grounder. Burres escaped minor trouble the next two innings, but Jonny Gomes hit a solo homer in the fourth.

"I felt good the whole time I was out there," said Burres, who was charged with four runs (three earned) in six-plus innings, with six strikeouts. "The pitch to Gomes was obviously a bad pitch, right down the middle. But I just wish I hadn't walked the leadoff guy in the seventh. That's not the way you want to start an inning."

It isn't when your club can't mount a rally after the fourth - unless a two-out walk to Roberts in the fifth qualifies.

"They got the hits with guys on and we didn't," manager Dave Trembley said. "That's what the game came down to."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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