BALTIMORE—The Orioles returned home to begin a season-long 10-game homestand and ended the night with their first three-game losing streak. They had chances to score, and didn’t, and wasted a good start from Kyle Gibson, falling 3-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays before an announced crowd of 12,669 at Oriole Park on Monday night.
It was the first time the Orioles lost the first game of a series this season after winning the first game of 11 successive series to begin the year.
“I think their track record through the first  games speaks for itself,” Gibson said about the Rays, who are 29-7. “They execute on offense when they need to. They put really good swings. There’s never an at-bat where you feel you can take a couple of pitches off.
“Even when you have good stuff, like I felt I did tonight, you have to execute pitches on a consistent basis. They make you work. They don’t take [at-bats] off. Good teams that are filled with good hitters that don’t take at-bats off, no matter how the game score is, they’re challenging. It’s a mental game for as long as you’re out there. It’s a lot of fun. Those are the challenging times when you enjoy being out there.”
The Orioles, who were 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position in their 12-inning loss to Atlanta on Sunday, were 0-for-6 against the Rays and struck out 13 times.
Their best chance came in the eighth when Ryan McKenna singled with two outs against reliever Colin Poche and Austin Hays doubled. With runners on second and third, Adley Rutschman struck out. It was Rutschman’s third strikeout of the game, and it extended his hitless streak to 18 at-bats.
“I thought he hit some balls hard in Atlanta,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s 18 at-bats out of 600-plus at-bats he’s going to have. Everybody’s going to have a few games without getting hits. That’s the way it is.”
It equaled Rutschman’s career high, the sixth time he has struck out three times.
With runners on first and second and one out in the fourth, Adam Frazier hit a high pop to short left that Wander Franco ran down while Anthony Santander was already standing on third, and it was an easy double play.
Ramón Urías singled with two outs in the ninth and left the game with a strained left hamstring. If the Orioles need to place him on the 15-day injured list, the team could recall infielder Joey Ortiz from Triple-A Norfolk.
Tampa Bay starter Shane McClanahan (7-0) is now 6-0 with a 2.14 ERA in eight career starts against the Orioles (22-13). He allowed four hits in six innings, walking four and striking out seven.
“He’s really good. He’s 97-100 with two excellent breaking balls and throwing a really good changeup to right-handed hitters, too,” Hyde said. “We put a couple of rallies together. We just didn’t get a big hit. When you’re facing somebody like that, I thought we grinded. We just had a tough time against him. We just didn’t get that big hit with runners in scoring position.”
Josh Lowe hit the first pitch from Gibson in the second inning for his seventh home run of the season.
In the top of the seventh, Gibson (4-2) was removed after a leadoff single by Luke Raley. Bryan Baker walked Francisco Mejia and Wandy Diaz. Franco hit a fly ball to center that scored Raley, but Diaz was out trying to advance to second.
Gibson allowed two runs on six hits in six-plus innings.
“One of my goals it to keep the team in the game,” Gibson said. “Sometimes, against a guy like McClanahan, two or three runs doesn’t do it. Sometimes you go out and give up three or four and you do the job. Human nature tells me I threw the ball well. I’d like to have that first pitch back to Lowe, trying to execute a sinker down and away and I didn’t do it.”
Raley homered against Keegan Akin with one out in the ninth.
Poche, Kevin Kelly and Jason Adam combined for three scoreless innings.
“You look at Atlanta. We scored more runs over the series, played better than them for probably 28 of the 30 innings, and we lost two games,” Gibson said. “All the times against really good teams, that’s how three-game series can go. Tonight, a couple of at-bats, here and there, on offense for us and on defense, we could win that game 3-0.
“When you get two really good teams like that that were out there tonight, it’s the little things that end up making what is a three-run game really close … It was a close game. They executed when they needed to on offense and got an insurance run late. We just couldn’t get a hit when we needed to, but those are going to fall. Those hits are going to come and hopefully we’ll be on the right side of it.”
Notes: The Orioles’ 11 straight series-opening wins is tied for the best in franchise history. They also did it August 30th-September 30th, 1974, May 23rd-June 30th, 1978 and May 16th-June 18th, 1980. … The Rays are the fifth team in major league history with a 36-game record of at least 29-7. … Right-handed pitcher Joey Krehbiel cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Norfolk…. Longtime Orioles advance scout Deacon Jones, who also played in the majors with the Chicago White Sox, died on Sunday at 89. … Grayson Rodriguez (1-0, 5.46) will face Zach Elfin (4-0, 2.25) on Tuesday night.
Gibson on Orioles’ chances: “We know that we’ve been playing really good baseball. This isn’t a three-game losing streak where we’ve shot ourselves in the foot and we haven’t played well and we’ve given away two of the three games or all three. We’ve been in all three of them and one swing away from winning each game. We feel really good about where we’re at. We’re playing really good baseball and if we keep doing this over the long stretch, we’re going to be right where we want to be at the end.”
McClanahan on the Orioles: “The Orioles are playing great baseball right now. They’re a fun team to watch. That’s a fun team to play. You always want to be the best, but you’ve got to play the best.”
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB