BALTIMORE (AP) In a matchup between two offensively challenged AL East clubs, the Tampa Bay Rays went on a veritable scoring spree over the first three innings.
Erasmo Ramirez did everything in his power to make the three-run cushion stand up.
Ramirez threw three-hit ball over seven innings, and Tampa Bay beat Wei-Yin Chen and the Baltimore Orioles 3-0 Saturday to end a six-game losing streak.
Steve Souza Jr. and Joey Butler homered for the Rays, who came in with an AL-best 3.40 ERA but ranked 26th in the majors in scoring.
So, given a 3-0 lead to work with, Ramirez made it a point to show his appreciation.
''It gives you a big feeling that your team is fighting and showing you they support you,'' he said. ''That showed me the team was with me, and I wanted to do my best to show everybody we came here to fight.''
Ramirez (3-2) struck out seven and walked one in his longest outing since last July. The right-hander allowed only one runner past first base in lowering his ERA from 6.62 to 5.53.
''I am really happy right now,'' he said. ''I cannot stop smiling.''
Tampa Bay starters have not allowed a run in the last 25 1-3 innings, but the bullpen was shaky during the six-game skid. In this one, however, Brandon Gomes worked a perfect eighth and Brad Boxberger got three straight outs for his 14th save.
Chen (1-4) gave up three runs and six hits in seven innings. It was the ninth time in 10 starts the left-hander permitted three earned runs or fewer, but he's got only one win to show for it.
''Wei-Yin pitched well,'' manager Buck Showalter said. ''We didn't do much. I think I counted eight balls we hit hard. Not a whole lot.''
Baltimore has been blanked four times this season, three by the Rays. It was the eighth time in the last 15 games that the Orioles tallied two runs or fewer.
In this one, Ramirez was just too good.
''He was changing eye levels, he was keeping the ball down, up, elevating a little bit, using that changeup and slider right off the plate,'' said Steve Clevenger, who had two of Baltimore's three hits. ''He made us put the ball in play, and we just didn't swing it well today.''
The Rays took control by scoring in each of the first three innings. Evan Longoria hit a sacrifice fly in the first, Souza homered in the second and Butler connected in the third.
It was Souza's ninth home run, the second in two games.
''It's nice to get a big lead and hold it,'' manager Kevin Cash said. ''The guys played really good defense behind Erasmo. A good, solid ballgame on our part.''
Limited to one hit through the first four innings, the Orioles were thwarted by the Tampa Bay defense in the fifth. With two outs, Butler rifled a strike from left field to catcher Rene Rivera that cut down Clevenger, who was trying to score from second on a single by Ryan Flaherty.
''Runs were at a premium,'' Showalter said. ''Sometimes in a game you have to take some chances that may not work out.''
Baltimore didn't get another baserunner the rest of the way.
ON A ROLL
Rays: OF Brandon Guyer collected a season-high three hits with two doubles and a run scored. He's working on a career-best hitting streak of eight games.
Orioles: For the first-time in his career, Clevenger recorded a second straight multihit game.
Rays: DH Tim Beckham left with a cramp his in his left hamstring. ... LHP C.J. Riefenhauser (left shoulder inflammation) was reinstated from the DL and optioned to Triple-A Durham.
Orioles: CF Adam Jones (left ankle) was given a day off. X-rays and an MRI showed a mild sprain, and Showalter labeled him day to day. ... RHP Bud Norris (bronchitis) will pitch for Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday and rejoin the club soon after that.
Rays: In the series finale Sunday, Jake Odorizzi will seek to go at least six innings in an 11th consecutive game. He's got a 2.31 ERA but is 3-5 because of poor run support.
Orioles: Chris Tillman takes the mound for the Orioles, who wrap up a stretch in which they play 17 of 20 games at home. They're 10-9 thus far.