ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—The Baltimore Orioles are going through their toughest stretch in decades.
James Shields(notes) carried a shutout into the eighth inning, Ben Zobrist(notes) hit a three-run homer and the Tampa Bay Rays extended the Orioles’ losing streak to 13 games with a 5-3 victory on Wednesday night.
Baltimore can tie the second-longest skid in franchise history set in August 1954 with a loss in the series finale against the Rays on Thursday night. The Orioles’ longest losing streak is a season-opening 21-game slide in 1988.
“I think (the) guys, like everybody else is pretty sick and tired of it,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.
Shields allowed three runs and six hits over eight innings.
“It’s always good to finish strong,” he said after his final start of the season. “It’s always good to have that fresh in your mind going into next year. The good news for me is I’m healthy. I threw a lot of innings this year and I feel strong.”
Shields (11-12) finished his season with a career-high 219 2-3 innings. He made 33 starts for the second consecutive year.
Carl Crawford(notes) also homered for the Rays (82-76), who guaranteed their second-ever winning season. Tampa Bay had never finished above .500 before going 97-65 during last season’s run to the AL championship.
“It’s important that we all go out strong,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
“For us to battle back like we did, it says something about the guys,” Trembley said.
Baltimore is 6-29 on the road against the AL East, and 20-48 against the division overall.
“It’s tough,” Orioles left fielder Luke Scott(notes) said. “The best thing to do is come out here tomorrow, don’t look at the scoreboard and just play your hardest. You’re going to go through adversity. You can either allow it to break you down or you can allow it to build character.”
Zobrist hit his 26th homer in the third to extend the Rays’ lead to 4-0. He has driven in 15 runs over his last 14 games.
“He’s going to have to improve his secondary pitches,” Trembley said. “He’s going to have to show the ability to throw the secondary pitches over for strikes.”
The Rays are 50-27 at home this season, compared to 32-49 on the road.
NOTES: Scott left with a strained muscle in his left foot. The foot is sore, but Scott is hoping to return to the lineup before the season ends. … Rays CF B.J. Upton(notes) stole two bases and has 41 this year. … Baltimore has lost 10 consecutive road games. … Orioles RHP Bob McCrory(notes) has a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder and is scheduled to have surgery on Friday. … Rays RHP Chad Bradford(notes) is not expected to pitch again this season. The reliever, who missed more than half the season with elbow and back injuries, has appeared in just nine games since Aug. 19.