BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles had their worst pitching performance of the season, and afterward there was plenty of blame to pass around.
Miguel Gonzalez got things started with an uneven outing and the bullpen followed suit, yielding the final nine runs in an ugly 12-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
Matt Joyce homered twice and had a career-high five hits for the Rays, whose 11 extra-base hits — five homers and six doubles — were most by an Orioles opponent since Detroit in September 2006.
Gonzalez gave up three runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings, his shortest outing in seven starts since May 5. That put the pressure on an overworked bullpen that had a 0.30 ERA over the previous eight games.
Evan Meek allowed four runs, Brian Matusz yielded five and the Orioles ended up losing three of four to the team with the worst record in the majors.
“That was a tough one to swallow,” Gonzalez said. “The (bullpen has) been doing a good job, and I just feel like I let them down.”
The 12 runs and 18 hits were the most allowed by Baltimore this season.
“Times like this, you’d like to come out with a W when you score seven runs,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
The pitching, in a word, was horrible.
“Really, as a group today,” Showalter said. “We’ve just got to work our way out of it. A couple of good starts and we’ll be back on our feet.”
The Rays trailed 4-3 before Kevin Kiermaier and Logan Forsythe went deep during a seven-run sixth inning that sent many in the crowd of 32,665 scattering toward the exits.
“We haven’t had anything like that all year,” Joyce said. “It was nice to come out here and win a big series and swing the bats like we did.”
Ben Zobrist also homered for the Rays, who started the series with a 1-7 record against their AL East rivals. The 12 runs were Tampa Bay’s second-most this season behind a 16-run outburst on April 19 against the Yankees.
Joyce doubled in the first inning, hit a solo shot in the third, singled in both the fifth and sixth innings and added a two-run drive in the seventh. His five hits and 12 total bases tied club records.
Although the Orioles finally got Joyce out in the ninth with the outcome already decided, his 5-for-6 performance upped his batting average 15 points to .274.
“You really don’t have very many days like that,” Joyce said. “It’s nice to have one of those days and enjoy it.”
Alex Cobb (3-6) got the win despite giving up four runs and eight hits in five innings.
Manny Machado and Ryan Flaherty homered for the Orioles. Flaherty hit a three-run drive in the ninth to snap an 0-for-16 skid.
The game turned in the seventh, when the Rays set season highs with seven runs and seven hits. After Kiermaier homered off Meek (0-3), Joyce singled in a run and James Loney delivered a two-run double. Brandon Guyer followed with an RBI double and Forsythe capped the barrage with a two-run homer off Matusz.
In the eighth, Joyce hit a shot to right to make it 12-4 and complete his third career two-homer game. Coming in, he had three home runs this season — none since May 11.
Tampa Bay went up 1-0 in the first inning when Desmond Jennings walked and scored on a double by Zobrist, who was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
After Joyce homered in the third, Nick Markakis doubled in the bottom half and came home on a two-out single by Steve Pearce.
Machado put Baltimore up 3-2 with a two-run drive in the fourth. After Zobrist connected in the fifth to tie it, Tampa Bay loaded the bases before Meek replaced starter Miguel Gonzalez and struck out Forsythe.
Baltimore took the lead for the last time when Markakis scored on a passed ball to make it 4-3 in the sixth.
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