MLB

Rays-Orioles Preview

A revived offense combined with stellar performances from the rotation have put the Tampa Bay Rays in position to move back above .500.

The Baltimore Orioles continuing their late-summer swoon has also helped.

Seeking his sixth straight road victory, Erasmo Ramirez will try to help the Rays to a three-game sweep of the Orioles on Wednesday night.

Tampa Bay (66-66) is chasing Texas for the AL's second wild-card spot despite a league-low 3.78 runs per game and .248 batting average that ranks slightly higher.

The Rays, though, have been pounding the Orioles (63-69) with 25 hits, four homers and a 17-5 scoring edge through the first two of the series, including an 11-2 win Tuesday.

Starters Chris Archer and Drew Smyly combined for 16 strikeouts over 13 scoreless innings in those two games. The Tampa Bay rotation has a 1.38 ERA during a four-game winning streak in Baltimore.

Ramirez (10-5, 3.68 ERA) started that stretch May 30, striking out seven and yielding three hits in seven innings of a 3-0 win. That outing is part of an outstanding road stretch for the right-hander, who is 5-0 with a 2.91 ERA over his last 10 away starts.

Ramirez, though, struggled at home against the Orioles on July 25, surrendering five runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-1 loss.

He enters this meeting looking to bounce back from one of his shortest starts of the year, yielding three runs and six hits with three walks in 4 1-3 innings of Friday's 4-2 home loss to Kansas City.

"I thought Erasmo battled really well early on," manager Kevin Cash told MLB's official website. "Maybe he wasn't as sharp as we've seen him pretty consistently. It seemed like he was trying to make that perfect pitch and couldn't quite make it. But saying that, he gave up two earned runs. So he still gave us an opportunity."

J.P. Arencibia did most of the damage Tuesday with a two-run homer and a pair of two-run singles while batting ninth in his sixth game - third start - since being recalled from Triple-A Durham.

"Very thankful to get the opportunity," said Arencibia, who is a .329 hitter with five home runs and 24 RBIs in 21 career games at Camden Yards. "This is a good team and we're in a good race."

Brandon Guyer is batting .542 in the past seven matchups with the Orioles after going 4 for 5 with an RBI double. He's 8 for 14 and has scored five runs during the Rays' three-game winning streak.

Baltimore's postseason chances have begun to fade with 12 losses in 13 games.

"We are going to have to get hot in order to get in this thing," manager Buck Showalter said.

Kevin Gausman (2-6, 4.39) is 0-4 with a 5.01 ERA in his last five starts. The right-hander gave up four runs and nine hits, including two homers, over 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 loss at Texas on Friday.

He's 1-3 with a 5.47 ERA in five starts against the Rays, losing both at home while being tagged for eight runs and 13 hits in nine innings.

Gausman's only appearance against them this year came in relief during a 6-5 road win April 7. He got the win after allowing only Kevin Kiermaier's two-run homer in 2 1-3 innings.

He may not have to contend with Kiermaier, who has a mild right ankle sprain that sidelined him Tuesday. However, he's allowed Arencibia to go 2 for 4 with a homer and Guyer has doubled twice in three at-bats in the matchup.

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