BALTIMORE—Manager Brandon Hyde got a solid start from Jorge López, and then the third horrible eighth inning of the weekend sent the Orioles to another exasperating defeat.
In three eighth innings, the Orioles allowed 16 runs. On Sunday, they entered the inning with a 5-3 lead, and six runs later, they were on their way to their fifth straight loss, 9-6, to the Tampa Bay Rays before an announced crowd of 10,576 at Oriole Park.
Paul Fry (4-5), who didn’t retire any of his three batters on Friday, began the eighth by loading the bases on a single to Brandon Lowe and walks to Jordan Luplow and Nelson Cruz.
After Austin Meadows popped to short, Fry walked Wander Franco on a 3-2 pitch, forcing home Lowe.
Dillon Tate replaced Fry and retired Yandy Diaz on a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Luplow with the tying run.
Tate walked Manuel Margot and then Brett Phillips hit a grand slam to left-center, his second homer of the game, and Tampa Bay (68-44) led, 9-5.
“The whole room in there is disappointed, discouraged because we are so inconsistent in our bullpen,” Hyde said. “Sometimes, our guys are pretty good out there. Sometimes, not.
“You can’t be afraid of the strike zone. You’ve got to be able to attack hitters. Like I’ve been saying for three years now … Sometimes, our guys do it; sometimes, they don’t. That’s why we have a ton of losses like that.”
Ten days ago, it appeared as though Paul Fry and Tanner Scott, the team’s two left-handed relievers, might be traded at the July 30th deadline. Now Fry is having an awful time, and Scott is on the 10-day injured list because of a sprained left knee.
“I have a ton of guys up right now in the ‘pen that are struggling,” Hyde said.
“Games that we won for the most part, Paul Fry has been involved, [Cole] Sulser has been involved. We’re missing veterans, and we’re missing a couple of guys on the [injured list] that might shorten the game, but this is the big leagues. You’ve got to perform. “
JT Chargois (2-0), who relieved DJ Johnson in the sixth when he left because of shoulder discomfort, pitched 1 1/3 innings.
Cedric Mullins hit his 20th home run of the season on Michael Wacha’s first pitch. He became the seventh Oriole player to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season.
“It means everything to join a prestigious group like the 20-20,” Mullins said.
The Orioles have 52 games remaining to see if Mullins can become the first 30-30 player in team history.
“There’s still some time left,” Mullins said.
The Orioles (38-72) missed a chance to add on in the bottom of the first. Trey Mancini reached on an error by third baseman Joey Wendle but was thrown out at third on Anthony Santander’s single to left. Maikel Franco singled, but two runners were left on when DJ Stewart flied out to left.
Jorge Mateo was hit by a Wacha pitch to start the second. He stole second and scored on Richie Martin’s single to right. Austin Wynns singled, but Mullins lined out to second, and Wynns was doubled up. Martin scored on Austin Hays’ single, and the Orioles had a 3-0 lead.
Francisco Mejia tripled with one out against López in the third and scored on Brandon Lowe’s single.
Anthony Santander’s seventh home run, his first since July 6, put the Orioles up, 4-1, after three.
Austin Meadows hit his 21st home run to lead off the fourth.
Wynns doubled with one out in the fourth and scored on a wo-out single by Hays.
López allowed two runs on four hits in six innings.
“He looked like an AL East legitimate guy that can go through the lineup three times with a normal bullpen that gives you a chance to win the game,” Hyde said.
Cole Sulser gave up Phillips’ two-out home run in the seventh to cut the Orioles’ lead to 5-3.
Santander’s run-scoring double scored Mullins with the final Orioles’ run in the ninth.
Notes: The other members of the 20-20 club are Brady Anderson (1992, 1996, 1999), Paul Blair (1969), Don Baylor (1969), Reggie Jackson (1976), Manny Machado (2015) and Jonathan Villar (2019). … Keegan Akin (0-5, 7.66 ERA) will face Casey Mize (6-6, 3.57) on Tuesday when the Orioles open a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers. John Means (5-3, 2.79) will face Tarik Skubal (7-10, 4.32) on Wednesday. On Thursday afternoon at 4:05 p.m., Matt Harvey (6-10, 6.13) will face Matt Manning (2-5, 6.33). …Infielder Pat Valaika cleared outright waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk.
Brooks Robinson breaks arm: The family of Brooks Robinson, 84, and the Orioles provided the following statements on the Hall of Fame third baseman’s health:
“Just over a week ago, Brooks Robinson fell at his home and broke his left arm. After a successful surgery at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, he is on his way to a full recovery. His spirits are high as he continues his rehabilitation. He thanks everyone for their well wishes,” the statement from his family read.
“Brooks is doing well after a fall at home and a successful surgery. We request privacy for him and his family and wish him the best as he recuperates,” the Orioles’ statement read.