Orioles beat Rays 3-0 for 2-game sweep
BALTIMORE (AP) The Baltimore Orioles appear to be getting the pitching they so desperately need to be contenders in the AL East.
Or maybe they just caught the Tampa Bay Rays at exactly the right time.
Miguel Gonzalez and two relievers combined on a six-hitter, and the Orioles capitalized on two infield singles by Adam Jones in a 3-0 victory Wednesday.
Nick Markakis also had two hits for the Orioles, who outscored the Rays 10-1 in the rain-abbreviated, two-game series. Baltimore has won five of seven to reach .500 (7-7) for the first time since the second game of the season.
''It's not about the hitters, it's about the starting pitchers setting the tone, and we follow suit,'' Jones said. ''In the last two games, the starters and then our bullpen comes in and shuts them down.''
Gonzalez (1-1) gave up three hits and three walks in five innings after entering with a 9.64 ERA. Zach Britton permitted two singles over three innings to keep his ERA at 0.00, and Tommy Hunter got three outs for his fourth save.
The Rays came up empty against the third and fourth pitchers in the Baltimore rotation. After Wei-Yin Chen excelled on Monday, Gonzalez righted himself at the expense of the struggling Tampa Bay lineup.
Wil Myers struck out three times, and the Rays got only one extra-base hit. Tampa Bay has scored only 14 runs in its last nine games and has been held under three runs in nine of 15 games this season, including three shutouts.
''We faced 153 pitches today and didn't score a run. That's difficult to do,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''Our at bats have been good; the results haven't been.''
Myers, who is batting .200, said, ''We're not getting it done with the bats. Especially me. I haven't done too much at the plate.''
Tampa Bay's biggest threat came in the seventh, when a walk and singles by Yunel Escobar and Jose Molina loaded the bases against Britton with one out. Ben Zobrist hit into a force play at the plate, and Myers struck out.
''I had a chance to make something happen and couldn't get the big hit,'' Myers said. ''That's been the frustrating thing, not getting the hit to help the team.''
Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi (1-2) allowed three runs and five hits in five innings.
Because Tuesday night's game was postponed by rain, all players wore No. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson a day later than originally planned. The jerseys were worn over long-sleeved shirts, because the temperature at the start of the game was 39 degrees.
Playing at designated hitter instead of center field after returning from an illness, Jones reached on a bunt in a two-run fourth inning and drove in a run with a 50-foot chop down the third-base line in the fifth.
''Sometimes you've just got to be able to use your legs,'' Jones said. ''You're not always going to be able to swing the bat to the best of your ability or the way you would like to. So in certain situations it's smart to drop a bunt down and get your timing back.''
Both starting pitchers dominated until the fourth inning. In the top half, the Rays got runners on first and second with one out before David DeJesus hit a sinking liner to right. Markakis caught the ball and threw to second for a double play.
In the bottom half, Baltimore used a walk and two singles to load the bases with no outs. After Matt Wieters delivered a fly ball to the warning track that advanced all three runners, J.J. Hardy hit a run-scoring grounder for a 2-0 lead.
Baltimore loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth before Jones hit a dribbler down the line that stopped on the chalk.
NOTES: Tampa Bay heads home for a four-game series against the New York Yankees beginning Thursday night. David Price (2-0) faces CC Sabathia in the opener. ... The Orioles have Thursday off before facing Boston from Friday through Monday. Monday's 11 a.m. start, which comes after a Sunday night meeting, is the annual Patriots Day game and marks the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. ''What that day represents to Boston and our country, we all consider it an honor to be lucky enough to have the schedule fall that way,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ''I think we're all looking forward to paying the respect due there.'' ... Orioles 1B Chris Davis has reached base in 13 straight games. He stole his second base of the season. ... Wieters has 54 RBIs against Tampa Bay.