photo credit: Al Messerschmidt / Getty Images
Shortstop Yunel Escobar delivers a shower to first baseman James Loney after Loney hit a walk-off pinch-hit solo home run to cap a four-game sweep Monday.
by Steve Carney / 620 WDAE
It seems only fitting that the final Tampa Bay Rays win at home in 2013 would mirror the first one.
James Loney hit a pinch-hit solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off Baltimore's Tommy Hunter, propelling the Rays to a 5-4 win over the Orioles Monday at Tropicana Field, completing a four-game sweep.
Loney led off the ninth with a solo homer to right, just like Matt Joyce led off the bottom of the ninth on April 3, also against Hunter.
Tampa Bay initially took the lead in the bottom of the second, as Wil Myers singled to lead off the inning, followed by Delmon Young drawing a walk. Young was erased as Escobar grounded into a fielder's choice, and Tim Beckham drove Myers in with a sacrifice fly for his first big-league RBI.
Baltimore took the lead away in the fourth, as Chris Davis followed a Manny Machado single by blasting a Chris Archer pitch off the restaurant in center field for a two-run homer and a 2-1 advantage.
Adam Jones then struck out, but Nick Markakis singled and Matt Wieters walked two batters later, setting up J.J. Hardy's single, scoring Markakis to make it 3-1.
Tampa Bay got back to within a run in the bottom of the inning, as Beckham singled with two out and scored on a double by Jose Molina.
Brian Roberts got the Orioles their two-run lead back by leading off with a solo homer off Archer.
A pair of scary moments occurred in the seventh. In the top of the frame Manny Machado reached on an infield single, but appeared to severely injure his left knee stepping awkwardly on the first base bag. He was on the infield dirt for several minutes before being stretchered off the field.
In the bottom of the seventh, Tampa Bay loaded the bases on a one-out walk to Jose Lobaton from reliever Brian Matusz, a single by Zobrist two batters later, and a walk to Evan longoria by Darren O'Day. Wil Myers then flared a ball into short right field, where Alexi Casilla, Machado's replacement, appeared to catch the baseball. However, on the dive, Casilla head collided with the side of Markakis's knee and the ball popped free, allowing two runs to score and tie the game.
Casilla would finish the half-inning, but be removed in the eighth.
The contest remained 4-4 until the ninth, when Loney blasted his 14th home run of the year just inside the right-field line.
The win puts Tampa Bay a full game ahead of Cleveland, who was idle Monday, and Texas, who defeated Houston 12-0, for the top Wild Card position.
Tampa Bay next heads to New York to begin their final road trip with the first of three against the Yankees. Matt Moore (15-4, 3.34 ERA) will take on Hiroki Kuroda (11-12, 3.17 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 with coverage on 620 WDAE and 95.3 FM starting at 7:05.