Orioles overcome Hammel setback to beat Rays
(Reuters) - Baltimore starter Jason Hammel left early after a flare up of his troublesome right knee but the Orioles overcame that setback to hammer visiting Tampa Bay 9-2 and grab a share of the American League East lead on Tuesday.
Hammel, making just his second start after missing nearly two months with knee surgery, tweaked his knee and had to leave in the fourth inning with the Orioles leading 3-1.
"It was just one pitch, and then after that pitch, I couldn't load on the leg again," Hammel told reporters.
The veteran Hammel (8-6), who raced to an 8-2 start to the season before running into knee issues, feared his season could be in jeopardy but said: "If there's any way that I can pitch, I'm going to."
Baltimore's J.J. Hardy, who had provided the advantage for Hammel with a two-run home run in the third, carried the home team with an RBI in the sixth and a second homer in the eighth.
"I got a couple pitches to hit and didn't miss them," Hardy said.
He finished with four hits and five RBIs to help the Orioles (79-62) catch New York at the top of the AL East following the Yankees' loss to Boston.
Steve Johnson came on in relief for Hammel and pitched 1 1/3 innings to get the win for the Orioles, who lost outfielder Nick Markakis to a broken thumb on Saturday.
Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore left after allowing three runs in four innings and the Rays' bullpen could do little to quiet Baltimore's bats, who banged out 13 hits.
Elliot Johnson and Ryan Roberts each hit solo homers for the Rays (77-64), who trail the AL East leaders by two games, though Roberts left in the sixth after straining his left forearm during a tag at second base.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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