ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.-- Through the first five innings, Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez had shut out the Tampa Bay Rays on just two hits.
But with one out in the sixth, Jimenez walked Tampa Bay center fielder Mallex Smith, and two batters later, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria hit a two-run home run, and suddenly Jimenez's afternoon turned around.
The Orioles had just four hits in seven innings against Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Cobb, as they lost, 5-1, before 18,430 July 26.
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop hit his 22nd home run in the fourth inning for the Orioles' only run.
With the loss, the Orioles' record drops to 48-53. Since the All-Star break, they're 6-7 and falling further away in the wild-card chase.
"Win. Score more runs than them," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "That's the name of the game; score more runs than the other team. It's no rocket science. It's just we have to score more runs than the other guys. Right now, we're not."
The Orioles have a day off before they begin a three-game series at the Texas Rangers July 28, the final series before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
"They're all important, regardless of what some false deadline … some people perceive it as," manager Buck Showalter said. "No, they're all important because we're trying to get into the playoffs and be the last team standing. So, to say some are more important than others is a really poor reflection on you as a competitor."
The series against the Rays, the final against an American League East opponent until Aug. 25, was perhaps a last chance for the Orioles to show they are a serious contender.
"Pretty crucial just like most of them are," designated hitter Mark Trumbo said. "We did the best we could."
Jimenez, who struck out a season-high nine batters in six innings, wasn't helped by his offense, which had six hits overall.
In relief, right-hander Darren O'Day and left-hander Zach Britton allowed three runs in the seventh and eighth.
"He gave up, what, one hard-hit ball?" Showalter said of Britton. "He feels good. And especially in that situation there. We didn't want him to go four days without pitching, so I'm happy where Zach is."
In 16 starts, it was Jimenez's fifth quality start. In this case, he pitched in hard luck.
"Yeah, but it's a part of the game," Jimenez said. "I felt good that I was able to compete and give the team a chance to be close on the scoreboard. But it's part of the game. You have to give credit to the other side. They played a good game. They played a good game. That guy pitched a really good game against a really good lineup."
The Rangers are in a similar position as the Orioles, deciding if they're going to buy or sell while jockeying for the wild card.
"I mean, we're still in it. I think every series in the second half is important," Jones said. "We didn't get it. Now we get a day off and go to Texas."
NOTES: INF Ryan Flaherty (right shoulder) and OF Anthony Santander (right elbow) will begin their rehab assignments at Double-A Bowie July 27. Flaherty is scheduled to play second base in his first game and is expected to play all around the infield while with the Baysox. …. Right-handers Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.01) and Andrew Cashner (5-8, 3.64) are expected to start against the Rangers July 28.
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