Tampa Bay is playing so well lately that most of the Devil Rays have gotten a chance to contribute to their success. But Carlos Pena is doing more than his share.
Pena and the Devil Rays go for their 10th win in 12 games when they continue a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay (57-81) still holds the bottom spot in the AL East, three games behind fourth-place Baltimore (59-77). The Orioles won 10 of the first 12 meetings this season, but the Devil Rays have taken the last four.
Pena hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the seventh inning Monday to help Tampa Bay win 9-7. It was Pena’s 35th homer of 2007, setting a new Devil Rays’ single-season record by surpassing the mark held by Jose Canseco (1999) and current Orioles designated hitter Aubrey Huff (2003).
“It’s pretty cool,” said Pena, who has four homers in the last four contests. “I’m extremely excited. At heart, I’m just a kid playing baseball still.”
The Devil Rays are outscoring opponents 97-51 and batting .323 over their last 11 games. Pena is hitting .390 (16-for-41) with seven homers and 17 RBIs during that stretch.
He is 3-for-6 with a double lifetime versus Jeremy Guthrie, who will take the mound for Baltimore on Tuesday.
Delmon Young went 2-for-5 with three RBIs Monday to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. Young is batting .429 (21-for-49) with 10 RBIs during that run.
Tampa Bay has won a season-high four in a row at home. The Orioles, meanwhile, have dropped 12 of their last 13 games while posting a 9.31 ERA.
“It’s usually not one thing that’s your downfall,” said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, whose team is trying to avoid losing its sixth consecutive series. “It’s a combination of things, but I would say tonight, the pitching was probably a lot more predominant than anything else.”
Baltimore tries to get past Tampa Bay ace Scott Kazmir (11-8, 3.74 ERA) on Tuesday. The left-hander is 4-1 with a 2.50 ERA in six home starts since the All-Star break, and is trying to win a season-high third straight start.
He is making his second consecutive appearance versus the Orioles after beating them 8-6 on Thursday. Kazmir allowed five runs and seven hits, including two homers, over five innings in that win.
He also walked three and struck out five to raise his single-season club record total to 194. It was his second straight win over the Orioles, and he improved to 4-3 with a 4.65 ERA in 11 career starts against them.
Baltimore’s Miguel Tejada is batting .435 (10-for-23) with a homer and two doubles lifetime versus Kazmir.
Guthrie (7-5, 3.62) allowed six runs and eight hits over six innings in last Thursday’s loss to Tampa Bay while walking three and striking out six. He gave up two homers for the fifth time in his last six starts and eighth time this season.
The right-hander fell to 2-1 with a 4.87 ERA in four career games, including two starts, against the Devil Rays. The Orioles have lost six straight starts by Guthrie, who is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in that span.
Despite his recent slide, Guthrie is 4-0 with a 2.51 ERA and .192 opponent batting average in 11 road starts this season.