In a year when they have turned losing into an art form, the Orioles avoided another head-shaking defeat by finding some late-game heroics.
Julio Lugo's one-out single in the bottom of the 13th inning off former Oriole Lance Cormier scored Cesar Izturis and gave the Orioles an 11-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays before what remained of an announced 16,623 at Camden Yards.
"I just wanted to go up there and hack at a pitch that I liked and hit it somewhere," Lugo said. "It felt great. It felt great to get a win."
The Orioles, who broke a four-game losing streak and won for the first time since the All-Star break, erased a four-run deficit in the seventh inning and eventually tied the score in the ninth on Miguel Tejada's two-run double off All-Star closer Rafael Soriano.
They then overcame a one-run deficit in the bottom of the 12th on Scott Moore's sacrifice fly to force a 13th inning, in which Lugo eventually won it with a hard single down the right-field line, ending the game after four hours, 38 minutes.
"I think that's kind of what this team has been about here lately," Orioles first baseman Ty Wigginton said. "I think a lot of the credit has to go to Juan Samuel and the way he's handled all of us and the way he goes about his business. I think everybody was excited. When your team battles back and you come from behind, you're excited because you found a way to get a 'W' against a very, very good team."
Said Samuel, the Orioles' interim manager: "It tells me that these guys are resilient, they don't give up. We've won so many games here of late coming back. Guys are not quitting. We're getting good pitching when we're giving up the lead to keep us in the game and give us a chance to score a run here and there, and it was an example of that tonight. These guys continue to fight. We'd like to see this on a more consistent basis, but there's talent in that room. We've just got to play at a higher level every night."
The Orioles hit four home runs, including three straight in the second inning. They were the team's first back-to-back-to-back homers since 1995. The Orioles scored seven earned runs against Rays starter Matt Garza, who had previous dominated them. And yet they still appeared headed for a fifth straight loss before the ninth-inning rally that was highlighted by Tejada's no-outs double to left field that scored two. It was just Soriano's second blown save in 25 chances.
The Rays pushed across the go-ahead run in the 12th on Willy Aybar's two-out single off Orioles closer Alfredo Simon, who was in his third inning of work. Aybar's first-pitch single to right scored Carlos Pena, who drew a one-out walk, stole second on Simon's third strike to Gabe Kapler and advanced to third on Orioles catcher Craig Tatum's bouncing throw that second baseman Julio Lugo couldn't handle. Pena, not known for his speed, would have been out by a sizable margin had Tatum made a good throw or Lugo been able to pick it.
Koji Uehara then struck out B.J. Upton with two men on to keep the Orioles' deficit at one, which loomed large when the Orioles again rallied against the Rays' bullpen.
Corey Patterson hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the 12th and moved to third on Wigginton's liner to right. Moore then hit a sacrifice fly to center to tie the score.
The night started with first lady Michelle Obama jogging to the mound with members of the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities League and the Boys & Girls Club for the two kids' ceremonial first pitches to Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. Obama then visited each dugout to shake hands with members of the Orioles and Rays.
There was a painful moment in the top of the first after Carl Crawford reached base on a fielder's choice. Starter Jake Arrieta's pickoff throw hit Crawford in the groin. The Rays' speedster toppled to the ground writhing in pain while Wigginton picked up the ball and tagged him out, adding insult to injury.
Crawford stayed on the ground for an extended period before walking gingerly to the dugout. He did not return to the game.
The game then turned into a glorified round of batting practice in the bottom of the second inning when Luke Scott, Wigginton and Jones connected off Garza, who is unbeaten in seven career starts at Camden Yards.
Scott's homer went 352 feet and landed on the flag court in right field, Wigginton's shot traveled 382 feet into the left-field seats and Jones' blast went an estimated 408 feet, also to left field.
The Orioles hadn't hit three straight homers since Jeff Manto, Mark Smith and Brady Anderson did it Sept. 5, 1995, against the California Angels at Camden Yards. That day was otherwise known for being Cal Ripken Jr.'s 2,130th consecutive game, tying Lou Gehrig's record.
The Angels pitcher who gave up those homers was Brian Anderson, who was at Camden Yards on Tuesday night as a broadcaster for the Rays' television network.