Tampa Bay goes for first sweep in Baltimore in four years (Jul 02, 2017)

BY AP • July 1, 2017

BALTIMORE -- The Tampa Bay Rays can complete their first three-game sweep in Baltimore since 2013 with a victory on Sunday.

After beating the Orioles 6-4 in 10 innings on Friday, the Rays pounded out a 10-3 victory the following day. The recent surge has provided Tampa Bay with some added confidence to go on an extended run.

"It's a good step," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We have to come in and play good (Sunday). We have an opportunity to put together a really good series here. No concern whatsoever. I know the guys will come in and compete like they did all year. We want to get on a roll going into the break."

Baltimore, meanwhile, has struggled to find consistency since early in the season. The Orioles have lost three of their past four and allowed 10 runs or more 11 times this year.

Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman (4-7, 6.07 ERA) has played a key part in those struggles but showed some encouraging signs in his last outing. Gausman threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. He snapped a three-game losing streak and picked up his first win since May 31.

Gausman is confident that he turned the corner and is primed to finish the season strongly.

"Early in the season, I got way too fastball-happy in some counts where I should probably be pitching in those counts," said Gausman, who is 4-3 with a 3.59 ERA in 16 appearances (11 starts) against Toronto. "That is really something I'm trying to do better is mixing up my pitches. Moving up and down and in and out and try to keep these guys off balance."

Alex Cobb (6-5, 3.73 ERA) takes the hill for the Rays after flirting with a no-hitter in his last outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday. Josh Harrison managed Pittsburgh's first hit with a leadoff single in the seventh inning. Cobb managed eight scoreless innings but still did not get the decision in Tampa Bay's 4-2 victory.

Cobb has been dominant against Baltimore during his career, going 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA in nine starts.

"You never want to get hit out there," Cobb said. "You're always doing your best to get outs and induce contact and get quick outs so you can work deeper into the game."

Rays infielder Tim Beckham tweaked an ankle during a swing in the series opener and was held out of the starting lineup Saturday.

"His ankle has been barking a little bit," Cash said. "He's been playing with a little bit of soreness. It's probably smart to get him out of the ballgame."

Beckham, who is batting .277 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs, could be back in the lineup Sunday.

The Orioles will get a boost later when closer Zach Britton (forearm strain) returns from the 60-day disabled list. Britton said Saturday that he is ready to rejoin the club.

"It's pretty much just get through Norfolk, don't do anything stupid, and just get up to Milwaukee," Britton said. "There's really not a whole lot I need to work on other than just getting through that inning at Norfolk."