Two-run HR from Gross leads way as Rays power past O's

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It must be the hair.

On a night Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon arrived at the ballpark with his silver hair dyed black, Gabe Gross hit a two-run homer, and Pat Burrell and B.J. Upton added solo shots to lead the Rays past the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 on Tuesday.

Maddon's color change was in preparation for next week's Johnny Cash-theme road trip, and was an attempt to keep his team loose. The Rays started Tuesday four games behind AL wild-card leader Texas.

"I felt we were way too uptight around here," Maddon said. "More than anything, we have not been really relishing in victory and I think we've been like too painful in defeat. We've just got to go out there and play. Understand it's a game. We got to the World Series last year by being kind of free-spirited about the whole thing. The black hair is symbolic of all those different items."

Gross gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead with his fourth-inning drive. Burrell and Upton homered in the sixth to make it 5-2.

Gross homered for the first time since July 22, and has two homers in his last 33 games. Upton's last homer came on June 30, and the center fielder has eight RBIs over his past 38 games.

The up-and-down Rays have won three straight after a five-game losing streak.

"I think we should just forget everything that's happened up to this point," Upton said. "Hopefully that means we can get going down the stretch."

Baltimore got a two-run homer from Matt Wieters. The Orioles are 8-23 since the All-Star break and dropped to a season-high 23 games under .500 (48-71).

Rays left-hander David Price (6-5) threw 102 pitches in five innings, allowing two runs and seven hits. J.P. Howell, who agreed with Maddon's assessment, pitched the ninth for his 13th save.

"It gets dry," Howell said. "We're grinding it out, but sometimes you need a little boost. I think we're all in."

Baltimore starter Jason Berken (2-11) gave up five runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"The ball started fading over the plate and against good power hitters high balls are no good," Berken said.

The Orioles took a 2-1 lead in the third on run-scoring singles by Adam Jones and Nolan Reimold. Wieters' fourth homer of the season, and first since July 5, pulled Baltimore within 5-4 in the eighth.

Wieters struck out with runners on first and second and two outs in the ninth.

"We left too many guys on base and didn't get the big hit when needed," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said.

The Orioles left 13 on base, and went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position.

Upton put the Rays ahead 1-0 with an infield RBI single in the second.

Baltimore's Nick Markakis reached base for the 38th consecutive game, the longest active streak in the majors, when he singled in the second. It gave him an 11-game hitting streak.

Game notes
Tampa Bay 2B Akinori Iwamura (left knee surgery) left in the third inning of a minor league rehab game with Triple-A Durhman with muscle fatigue. The Rays expect Iwamura to play Thursday. ... The Rays and Major League Baseball celebrated the 40th anniversary of Woodstock by showing music legend Jimi Hendrix's performance of the national anthem on the stadium video screen. ... Jones snapped an 0-for-12 slide with his third-inning hit. ... Tampa Bay RHP Chad Bradford (lower back tightness) threw a 20-pitch simulated game and was reinstated from the DL after the game. INF Reid Brignac was optioned to Durham. ... Rays SS Jason Bartlett was rested, while Burrell returned after missing two games with neck stiffness. ... Baltimore closer Jim Johnson returned home for the birth of his child.