Nick Markakis has shown signs of breaking out of his puzzling early-season slump, but the right fielder had an afternoon to forget in the Orioles' loss 5-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

A day after he went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs, Markakis was hitless in four at-bats, stranding four base runners. He also was unable to catch Matt Joyce's double to deep right in the fifth — a play he usually makes — and that kept the inning alive for B.J. Upton to hit a two-run single off Brad Bergesen for the winning runs.

In his first two at-bats, Brian Roberts had gotten on ahead of him with a walk, and Markakis wasn't able to move him up or get a hit either time, lining out in the first inning and popping out in the third. In the fourth, he came up with men on second and third and popped out in the infield.

"You got to get big hits in big situations. I'm just not getting it done right now," said Markakis, who is hitting .231 (6-for-26) with runners in scoring position and .227 overall this season. "Those are situations that you want to be in, and you want to come out successful. I just have to keep plugging away and battling."

Markakis had two or more hits in four of the Orioles' past six games and was hitting .333 (10-for-30) with seven RBIs in the Orioles' first seven games in May. However, consistency has remained the issue for the 27-year-old outfielder who has a tendency to get immersed in prolonged slumps.

His defense is usually a constant, but Markakis even admitted that Joyce's double was a play that he absolutely has to make. The ball was hit well, but Markakis got turned around on it before the ball got over his glove.

"It definitely is a ball I should catch," Markakis said. "Those are the toughest ones, hit right at you. A lot of hard-hit balls over your head, you can get switched up pretty easily. The bottom line is that's a ball that should be caught, and it wasn't."