The Orioles claimed sole possession of first place in the East after taking down Tampa 4-3 on Friday night at Camden Yards.
I'll say this about these O's...they can hit homers. Lots of them. The Birds slapped another three dingers and lead all of baseball with 53 round-trippers this season. All four runs came via the long-ball on Friday night.
Adam Jones started things off with a solo homer in the second, his tenth of the year. Nick Markakis slapped his sixth of the season in the sixth inning, and Nick Johnson launched a two-run blast, his first as an Oriole, to give the Birds the lead in the seventh.
Dana Eveland, making his first start of the season, was shaky but managed to keep the O's in the game, and the bullpen was lights-out. Eveland allowed three runs on five hits and six walks over six innings. He struck out two and hit two batters, one with the bases loaded. But he managed to hold Tampa to just the three runs, giving the offense a chance to come back.
Eveland had a little defensive help, as well. The play of the game had to be a play at the plate in the fourth...Matt Wieters took a jarring hit but came up with the ball in his glove, denying the Rays a run and minimizing the damage in the inning.
The bullpen was spectacular as well...Darren O'Day and Pedro Strop needed just six pitches each to get through the seventh and eighth innings, and Jim Johnson needed just eight pitches in the ninth en route to his tenth save in as many tries this season.
The O's (21-12) and Rays (20-13) go at it again Saturday night...Brian Matusz takes the mound for the Birds.