Orioles take half-game lead in AL East with win over Rays

The Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado gets mobbed by

The Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado gets mobbed by teammates after driving in the game-winning run to beat the Tampa Bay Rays in fourteen innings at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. (Sept. 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty

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BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have too much going on to be overly excited about ending their run of 14 consecutive losing seasons.

Manny Machado blooped an RBI single that eluded leftfielder Matt Joyce's dive with two outs in the 14th inning Thursday as Baltimore beat Tampa Bay, 3-2, to complete a three-game sweep. With their 81st victory, the Orioles are assured of no worse than a .500 record for the first time since 1997.

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"There's a bigger goal in mind," said manager Buck Showalter, whose team failed to score in the 13th despite loading the bases with none out. "That wasn't the goal from Day One this spring. Really, Day One of the offseason. It's watching other teams for years and saying, 'We want to do what they're doing. We'd like to get a chair at the dance, you know?' "

The Orioles are 27-7 in one-run games and the Rays are 20-26, with 13 losses in their last 16 one-run games. Baltimore has won its last 13 extra-inning games. The Orioles (81-62) remain in a first-place tie with the Yankees -- who beat Boston, 2-0, Thursday night -- and moved four games ahead of Tampa Bay.

With two outs in the 14th, 20-year-old rookie Machado hit a soft liner toward the line that Joyce trapped. "I know it hit my glove on the bottom," Joyce said. "It was hard to tell what exactly happened. Only thing I can tell you is I didn't come up with it."

After briefly celebrating a victory that capped a 5-2 homestand against the Yankees and Rays, the Orioles packed for a trip to Oakland. "It makes that West Coast trip a little easier when you win," said closer Jim Johnson, part of a bullpen that kept Tampa Bay scoreless on four hits in the final 62/3 innings.

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The Rays used a club-record 26 players, including nine pitchers, in a game that lasted 5 hours, 14 minutes.

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