Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) flips over Baltimore Orioles' Adam Jones after throwing to first base to complete a double play on Danny Valencia during the fifth inning of a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Friday, Sept. 20, 2013.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- It was literally Baltimore's longest day. Making things worse, it ended in a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays that dropped the Orioles 2 1/2 games out of wild-card position with nine games left to play.
David DeJesus ended a nearly seven-hour game with a one-out RBI single in the 18th inning and the Rays took over sole possession of the top AL wild-card spot by beating the Orioles 5-4 on Friday night.
"Devastating obviously," Orioles third baseman Manny Machado said. "It would have been much better of we had come out on top."
The longest game - in time - in the history of both franchises started at 7:05 p.m., with Tampa Bay tied with Texas atop a crowded race for two wild cards. By the time it ended 6 hours, 54 minutes later, the Rays were a half-game ahead of Cleveland, which beat Houston 2-1 in a rain-shortened game. The Rangers lost to Kansas City 2-1 and dropped a half-game behind. Baltimore is 2 1/2 back of Cleveland.
"The game's not always fair that night, but it usually evens out," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We're all operating under the same umbrella and it's part of the job description that you know going in, there's going to be some times that will be challenging."
Desmond Jennings had a one-out double in the 18th off Bud Norris (10-12) - the Orioles' 10th pitcher and one of a big league record 21 used in the game. After Yunel Escobar walked, DeJesus won it on his line single to center, setting off a wild celebration.
"That's everything right there that you play 162 games for," Tampa Bay's Chris Gimenez said. "I've never been a part of a game that long. To win it, especially how we did it like this, I hope this is something we can take and kind of run with. It couldn't happen at a better time, I'll tell you that much. It's a huge win for us."
Now the AL East rivals get to do it all over again at 1:05 p.m. Saturday.
Eight of the nine Orioles starters played the entire game, including catcher Matt Wieters, who has caught 48 innings since Tuesday.
"I think the big question I've got to wrestle with is how many guys we've got to rest tomorrow who played," said Showalter.
The Miami Marlins beat the New York Mets 2-1 in 20 innings earlier this season, the longest game by innings in three years. That game took only 6 hours, 25 minutes.
Jeremy Hellickson (12-9), Sunday's scheduled Tampa Bay starter, allowed one hit in 2 1-3 innings in relief.
Ben Zobrist drove in the tying run in the seventh with an RBI single off Kevin Gausman after the Rays blew a 3-2 lead in the top half.
Adam Jones greeted reliever Alex Torres with an RBI double and Danny Valencia had a sacrifice fly to give Baltimore the temporary lead.
After Zobrist tied it, the teams traded zeros long into the night. From the eighth inning on, the Orioles had just two hits.
"We didn't get key hits," Machado said. "I don't really think we got so many hits after the ninth inning, so we've got to just put this game aside and come back tomorrow. We have another game in a couple hours so we have to come back and get mentally ready and keep going."
Tampa Bay went ahead 3-0 in the second inning when slow-footed catcher Jose Molina doubled, went to third when Escobar hit a flyball and scored on DeJesus' sacrifice fly. Molina received a standing ovation after scoring.
Orioles starter Jason Hammel, winless in 12 starts since beating Washington on May 27, gave up three runs and six hits over five innings. Tampa Bay left-hander David Price, who has gone five starts without a victory, allowed two runs and nine hits in his five-plus innings.
Showalter recalled checking with Wieters in the 11th inning to see if how his catcher was holding up.
"I was kidding him in the 11th about catching the rest of the game and obviously we didn't know how long that was going to be," Showalter recalled, "but I'm sure he had in his mind to catch the rest of the game."
NOTES: Manny Machado appeared to get hit around right hand by Jake McGee's pitch in the seventh, but remained in the game.