ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Miguel Gonzalez's margin for error was small, and he exceeded it by walking the first two Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning.
Desmond Jennings made the Baltimore pitcher pay with a three-run home run, and the Rays went on to beat the Orioles 5-1 in a matchup of exhausted teams on Saturday to maintain their lead in the AL wild-card race.
"I put myself in a bad situation. You can't be doing that, especially late in the game," Gonzalez said. "I thought it was a good pitch (to Jennings), but you've just got to tip your hat."
Jennings drove in four runs, and Alex Cobb took a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning just hours after the longest game in the history of both franchises.
The first pitch on Saturday was thrown four minutes short of 11 hours after the Rays' 5-4, 18-inning win over Baltimore that ended at 2:05 a.m. That game stretched on for 6:54. The breezed through on Saturday, in comparison, by playing only 2:51.
Tampa Bay (85-69) and Cleveland (85-70) hold the two AL wild-card positions, with Texas (84-70) a half-game back. The New York Yankees (82-73) overtook Baltimore, which is tied with Kansas City at 81-73 and trails by 3½ games.
The Orioles never threatened Cobb (10-3) until the ninth inning when Chris Davis tripled and scored on Adam Jones' single. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter minimized the effect of Friday night's game.
"You'd be taking something away from Cobb," Showalter said. "He's pitched really well, and nobody is rested at this time of year. I think it was more Cobb than anything. He's got command of that changeup, to both left and right-handed hitters. He's impressive."
Cobb didn't allow a hit until Steve Clevenger lined a single to right with two outs in the fifth. He struck out 12.
"He was pretty much unhittable," Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth said. "With that split finger, he can get someone with weak contact, and he's got pitches he can put you away with. So you go up there wanting to get him early but the ball moves so much, it's hard to get good contact."
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