Rays dispatch Orioles quickly, maintain wild-card lead

Rays dispatch Orioles quickly, maintain wild-card lead

Published Sep. 21, 2013 4:28 p.m. ET

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Rays rode the momentum of a marathon victory to another big win.

Desmond Jennings drove in four runs, Alex Cobb took a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning, and the Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 on Saturday in a matchup of exhausted teams to maintain their lead in the AL wild-card race.

"We've got to keep things going," Jennings said. "There's no relaxing or anything like that. Keep finding ways to win games."

The first pitch came 10 hours, 56 minutes after the Rays' 5-4, 18-inning win over Baltimore that ended at 2:05 a.m., a game that stretched on for 6:54 -- a record time for both teams.

Saturday's game, by comparison, seemed to breeze by in 2:51.

"You can't put into words how appreciative you are when you're on the mound and these guys after an 18-inning game when you're in bed sleeping while they're putting together a win, and they come out with the same intensity for you the next day," Cobb said. "It's amazing."

Cobb, in a common practice, left the ballpark early Friday night and went to bed 2 1/2 hours before the game ended.

Tampa Bay (85-69) moved one game ahead of Cleveland (84-70), which entered Saturday in the second wild-card position. The Orioles (81-73) dropped three games behind the Indians and have three other teams in front of them.

Cobb didn't allow a hit until Steve Clevenger lined a single to right with two outs in the fifth. The Orioles had only two hits over the final 11 innings on Friday.

"I think it was more Cobb than anything," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "He's got command of that changeup, to both left and right-handed hitters. He's impressive."

Chris Davis tripled with one out in the ninth off Cobb, a fly ball David DeJesus struggled to locate in left. Adam Jones followed with an RBI single that chased Cobb, who struck out 12 and walked two. Closer Fernando Rodney completed the five-hitter.

Miguel Gonzalez (10-8) gave up three runs, two hits and five walks in six innings. The right-hander had been 2-0 with an 0.92 ERA in his previous three starts at Tropicana Field.

Tampa Bay went ahead in the fifth when Jose Molina and Yunel Escobar walked. One out later, Jennings hit his career-high 14th homer.

Jennings added an RBI triple in the seventh and scored on Ben Zobrist's single off Francisco Rodriguez.

Eleven players who went the distance on Friday came back to start on Saturday: Baltimore's Davis, Jones, Nick Markakis, Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy and Danny Valencia, and Tampa Bay's Zobrist, Escobar, David DeJesus, Wil Myers and Evan Longoria. Baltimore's Matt Wieters, who caught all 18 innings, was rested.

"I was worried with the guys that went all the way, and they did fine," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Showalter agreed.

"Everybody was engaged and ready to play today," Showalter said. "No excuses."

Someone jokingly wrote "Early hitting 7 a.m." on the message board in Tampa Bay's clubhouse Saturday morning.

NOTES: Baltimore recalled LHPs Mike Belfiore and Zach Britton from Triple-A Norfolk. ... Tampa Bay recalled LHP Jeff Beliveau from Triple-A Durham. ... Myers went 0 for 8 on Friday and became the first Tampa Bay player to go hitless in eight or more at-bats in a game. The rookie went 0 for 4 Saturday.