BALTIMORE (AP) — For the second time in three games, the Baltimore Orioles had an uplifting victory marred by an injury to a key player.
J.J. Hardy homered twice, doubled and drove in five runs, and the Orioles defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 9-2 Tuesday night to move into a tie for the AL East lead.
But starting pitcher Jason Hammel left in the fourth inning with an injured right knee. The right-hander underwent arthroscopic surgery on that same knee in mid-July and was making his second start since returning from the disabled list.
Hammel will be examined Wednesday by the team surgeon. He said the sensation was exactly identical to what he felt in a July 13 game against Detroit, his last start before going on the DL.
"It's a very sharp pain in the knee in the same spot," Hammel said. "I'm hoping it is just scar tissue. I've been told scar tissue can react like that."
On Saturday, Baltimore lost right fielder Nick Markakis with a broken left thumb while defeating the New York Yankees. Both Hammel and Markakis were on the DL earlier this year.
"We've been down this road many times this year with a lot of different challenges," manager Buck Showalter said. "We've operated a good portion of this season without Ham and without Nicky, so we're kind of experienced at it anyway. It's not the kind of experience you want to have."
Hammel had no problem with the knee on Thursday night against the Yankees, and retired 11 of 13 Tampa Bay batters before exiting.
"Against the Yankees, I felt great," Hammel said. "I felt like I was back on track, and I know I can help this team when I am healthy. So it's very frustrating."
Steve Johnson (3-0) got the win with 1 1-3 innings of hitless relief.
With Markakis out, Hardy picked up the slack. He went 4 for 5 to help Baltimore pull even atop the division with the Yankees, who lost 4-3 at Boston. The Rays are two games behind the co-leaders.
Hardy hit a two-run homer in the third inning, doubled and scored in the fifth, singled in a run in the sixth and added his 21st homer with a runner on in the eighth. It was his ninth career two-homer game, the second this season.
"I got a couple pitches to hit and didn't miss them," Hardy said.
Chris Davis homered and Matt Wieters had three hits and two RBIs for Baltimore.
Ryan Roberts and Elliott Johnson hit solo homers for Tampa Bay. It was the first time since Aug. 4 that the Rays lost by more than two runs; eight of their previous 12 defeats were by one run.