ST. PETERSBURG -- The Baltimore Orioles went into Wednesday night's game tied for the worst record in baseball, then committed five errors for the first time since 1999 and still managed to beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the fourth time in five games.
As the teams meet on Thursday at Tropicana Field to close out a three-game series, how's this for improbable: The Orioles went into Wednesday's game 1-71 when trailing after eight innings, and the Rays were 46-2 when leading after eight.
But Trey Mancini's two-run double off Rays closer Sergio Romo was enough to hand Tampa Bay its 27th one-run loss of the season, a major league high.
"It's been a challenge for us, and we have to get better," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said after the game. "You just don't win major league games very often like that."
The Orioles hadn't won a game while committing five or more errors since 1983, a span of more than 5,000 games. Baltimore had two errors with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, putting the tying run at third base before getting the final out to end the rally.
Thursday's starter, then, is a fitting one, featuring a pitcher who can't beat anyone except Tampa Bay this season. David Hess (2-6, 6.41 ERA) is 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA against the Rays this year, but 0-6 with a 7.94 ERA against everyone else. He hasn't won since beating Tampa Bay on May 25, and he's allowed at least five earned runs in each of his last five starts.
The Rays will again go with their reliever-as-opener strategy, turning to rookie Hunter Wood (0-0, 3.22 ERA) to start, with another rookie, Yonny Chirinos, likely to come in after him.
Wood has faced the Orioles twice this season, both in late July, with seven strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings, but he also allowed five hits and two earned runs for a 5.40 ERA.
The Rays have received promising outings from their young newcomers this week, with Tyler Glasnow pitching well Tuesday and Jalen Beeks throwing a solid five innings in Wednesday's loss. Both were acquired in deadline deals with Pittsburgh and Boston.
Tampa Bay continues to deal with one-run losses -- the team is on pace for 38 this season, which would be the most by any American League team since the 1968 Chicago White Sox had 44.
The Rays were facing a one-run deficit in the seventh, rallied for a one-run lead, only to turn it back into a one-run loss thanks to Romo, tied for the major league lead now with seven blown saves. He gave up two runs Wednesday, as many as he had allowed in his previous 23 outings combined.
"He's allowed a hiccup," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "If you look at what he's done for almost two months now, he's really reset his season. ... It's unfortunate it happened there in a one-run ballgame, but that's the way it goes sometimes. He'll bounce right back and be fine."