Rays 7, Orioles 4
The Tampa Bay Rays are doing a good job of creating some
separation between themselves and the Baltimore Orioles, while at
the same time keeping within striking distance of the first-place
Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
Even though it’s not September yet, the Rays don’t intend to
wait around to make their run at the top.
Alex Cobb took a two-hitter into the seventh inning, Matt Joyce
drove in three runs and Tampa Bay beat the Orioles 7-4 Tuesday
night for its sixth win in seven games.
Wil Myers had two hits and two RBIs for the Rays, who are
percentage points ahead of Boston in the AL East after the Red Sox
lost to the Giants later Tuesday night.
Tampa Bay has won the first two games of this series between AL
East rivals and can complete a sweep Wednesday night.
”It’s very big for where we’re at in the division and the fact
we’re chasing the Red Sox a little bit and also trying to create
some distance, because we know the O’s and the Yankees are very
capable and very tough competitors,” said Ben Zobrist, who had two
hits and an RBI. ”We don’t anticipate it being any sort of easy
road to the end of September and we’ve got to battle. This is two
great wins for us to start off.”
The Orioles, on the other hand, have lost six of eight and are
in danger of being overtaken by the surging Yankees.
”It’s not the position we would prefer to find ourselves in
after the first two games of the series, that’s for sure, but
there’s still plenty of baseball left for us to make up some
ground,” said Nate McLouth, who went 0 for 5. ”It’s not ideal at
all, but we won’t let this game affect (Wednesday’s) game.”
Cobb (8-2) was making his second start since being hit in the
head by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer on
June 15. The right-hander allowed two runs, one earned, three hits
and four walks in six-plus innings to win his fifth straight
”The curveball really helped me out early on,” Cobb said. ”My
changeup started working a little bit so I established that I was
going to throw in and out with the fastball early and I got them to
expand the zone a few times with my off-speed pitches.”
Cobb left after Baltimore used two walks and a single to load
the bases with no outs in the seventh. Alex Torres got Brian
Roberts to hit into a run-scoring double play before striking out
McLouth to keep the Rays ahead 3-2.
”They brought in that lefty with that really good changeup to
come in and do exactly what he did and that’s why they’re such a
tough team,” McLouth said. ”Because they can make life pretty
tough on you.”
Joyce doubled in two runs in the ninth off T.J. McFarland and
Myers added a broken-bat, two-run single off Jim Johnson.
Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer in the bottom half before
Fernando Rodney entered and got three outs for his 29th save.
Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez (8-6) gave up three runs, two
earned, eight hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings. The
right-hander is 0-3 in five starts since July 20.
One night after getting 15 hits in a 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay,
Baltimore managed only five hits, four of them singles.
”We didn’t get any hits. That’s obvious,” manager Buck
Showalter said. ”If you want to look for a reason, I personally
look at Cobb, who was tough. We didn’t do much off him tonight. I
think that was it in a nutshell.”
The Rays have won seven of eight against the Orioles to take an
8-5 lead in the season series.
The two teams with the fewest errors in the majors each gave up
an unearned run in the second inning. In the top half, Joyce
walked, advanced on an errant pickoff throw by Gonzalez and scored
on a two-out bloop by Yunel Escobar.
Baltimore tied it when Evan Longoria muffed a grounder and
Flaherty singled in a run with two outs.
Tampa Bay went up 3-1 in the third. After Desmond Jennings
walked and scored on a double by Zobrist, Longoria singled and
Joyce delivered a sacrifice fly.
Gonzalez worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by
getting James Loney to bounce into a double play.
NOTES: Zobrist moved into a fifth-place tie with B.J. Upton on
the team’s career RBI list with 447. Aubrey Huff is in fourth with
449. … Jeremy Hellickson, who’s 8-3 lifetime against Baltimore,
starts for Tampa Bay in the series finale Wednesday night. LH
Wei-Yin Chen will pitch for Baltimore. … The Orioles had won five
straight over the Rays with Gonzalez as the starter. … McLouth is
hitless in his last 17 at-bats.