ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) With one big swing, Chris Davis helped Baltimore pull out of a hitting funk.
Davis hit his fifth career grand slam and Miguel Gonzalez took a shutout into the eighth inning as the struggling Orioles snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.
The win was only the sixth in the past 21 games for the Orioles, who entered this weekend series coming off being swept by the AL East-leading New York Yankees. They squandered a late lead to lose the opener of a three-game set against the Rays on Friday.
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”I think there were situations where we probably pressed a little bit. I think it’s natural when you’re scuffling,” Davis said.
Gonzalez (9-6) allowed one run and five hits over 7 2-3 innings to win for the third time in his last four starts. The right-hander didn’t issue a walk and struck out five.
Davis hit a 3-2 pitch into the stands in right field for his 22nd homer of the season after J.J. Hardy, Jonathan Schoop and David Lough singled to load the bases against Erasmo Ramirez (8-4) in the third inning.
”Everybody that inning did a great job of not trying to do too much,” Davis said. ”Obviously with a full count and bases loaded, I know he’s not trying to walk me, so I just looked for a pitch over the plate and was able to put a good swing on it.”
The Orioles added a run in the eighth when Lough tripled down the right field line and bounced up from his slide to jog home and score on second baseman Logan Forsythe’s throwing error.
The five runs are the most Ramirez has allowed in two months, a span of 10 starts in which he’s gone 6-2 with two no-decisions. He entered Saturday night with a streak of nine consecutive appearances allowing two or fewer runs, tied for the second-longest stretch in Rays’ history.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, improved to 2-1 in four starts against Tampa Bay this season, limiting the light-hitting Rays to three runs in 29 innings. He allowed doubles to Evan Longoria and singles to Kevin Kiermaier and James Loney through six innings, but Tampa Bay went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position.
The Rays avoided being shut out for a 10th time when Curt Casali homered off Gonzalez with one out in the eighth.
”Miguel Gonzalez has got our number,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash, who before the game talked about the importance of making adjustments against a pitcher whose had success against you in the past.
He thought the Rays took a more aggressive approach to the right-hander this time.
”We didn’t have much to show for it, but give credit to the guy,” Cash said ”This wasn’t the first time he’s pitched a good ball game against us. We’ve had some issues with him.”
Ramirez allowed five runs and seven hits over 7 1-3 innings.
Chaz Roe finished the combined five-hitter for the Orioles, retiring all four batters he faced after replacing Gonzalez.
The Rays are 9-20 since June 20, when they were a season-best 10 games over .500.
”We’re in a rut,” Cash said. ”We’ve been in it for some time.”
Orioles: RHP Jason Garcia (right shoulder) has allowed three runs, six hits and eight walks and struck out nine over nine innings in his first five minor league rehab games with Double-A Bowie.
Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (torn labrum) will start a minor league rehab assignment Sunday with Triple-A Durham. The key acquisition from Detroit in the three-team trade that sent David Price from Tampa Bay to the Tigers last summer hasn’t pitched since May 5.
Orioles C Matt Wieters, who had elbow ligament placement surgery in June 2014, has started working out at first base. Manager Buck Showalter said the prospect of being able to play first could provide another option to keep Wieters’ bat in the lineup on days he doesn’t catch.
Orioles: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (4-6) makes his fourth start this season against the Rays in Sunday’s series finale. He went 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in the first three.
Rays: LHP Matt Moore (1-1) will make his fifth start Sunday since returning from elbow surgery. He hasn’t gone more than five innings in his first four outings.