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Rays break streaks, top Orioles

The SportsXchange

BALTIMORE -- The Tampa Bay Rays finally found some offense Wednesday night.

James Loney broke out of a recent slump by going 3-for-3 with three RBIs, and Matt Moore threw 6 2/3 strong innings as Tampa Bay snapped a four-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

The Rays (5-9) entered this game with just a .204 team batting average, the worst in the American League. They scored only eight runs and batted just .162 during the frustrating four-game losing streak before banging out 11 hits -- five for extra-bases -- in this game.

"It's tough. In the beginning of the year, everything is exaggerated a bit," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Your record stands out more freakishly when it's not good as opposed to the middle of the year when you could absorb maybe a bad little run. We played well; we just haven't hit well to this point."

The Rays finally were able to get the right hits at the right time. They went 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position and scored runs in five of the nine innings. In addition, they never trailed.

"It's (good) to score some runs and win tonight," Loney said. "You're in there battling. There's some nights when the pitcher's just on, and you're still giving your best effort. We give that every night. I really like the way everybody plays."

Loney's 3-for-3 effort raised his average from .167 to .242. The Rays also got more offensive help from a few different players. Shelley Duncan and Kelly Johnson each homered off Orioles' starter Chris Tillman (0-1) and finished with two hits and one RBI while Yunel Escobar added an RBI single in the sixth.

Escobar had been in a 1-for-28 skid before that hit, which gave the Rays a 5-2 lead. Loney's final RBI hit made it 6-2 in the eighth.

All of that offense gave Moore plenty of support. The left-hander improved to 3-0 by allowing two runs on five hits in his 6 2/3 innings. Moore struck out seven and walked three while keeping Baltimore's offense quiet.

The Orioles had scored 25 runs against the Rays in their first four meetings this season. The two earned runs Moore allowed were the first ones he gave up this season, and he now has an an ERA of 1.00.

"I was able to get ahead," Moore said. "They're obviously a very good hitting team and very aggressive so it was very important to get that first pitch over for a strike."

The Rays took a quick 1-0 lead when Johnson homered off Tillman in the first. Duncan made it 2-0 in the second with his one-out solo homer to left.

Baltimore tied it when Adam Jones hit a two-run homer in the third off Moore, those first earned runs he allowed this season.

Jones lined a shot to the top of the left-field fence on Moore's first pitch, and the ball was originally ruled a double. Orioles' manager Buck Showalter came out to protest. The umpires then agreed to check it out under video review and called it a home run.

The Rays took the lead back in the fourth. Loney lined a two-run double that gave the Rays a 4-2 edge. Jones tried to make a play on the sinking liner to center, but the ball bounced just in front of him and then skipped past.

Maddon didn't get to see much more as he got tossed in the top of the fifth while arguing a caught-stealing call.

The Orioles again had starting pitching problems as Tillman lasted just five innings and needed 93 pitches to get that far. Jake Arrieta threw 112 pitches Tuesday in five frames plus one batter.

Baltimore's pitching did a lot of good things, striking out 11 batters and walking only three -- Tampa Bay's numbers were eight and five in those categories -- but the offense couldn't do enough to help out.

"If you look at the number of guys we struck out and they struck out, we're ahead in that," Showalter said. "If you look at the number of guys they walk compared to the number of guys we walk, we won that battle (also). It's a funny game."

NOTES: Nick Markakis' first-inning single gave him hits in 12 of the 14 games this season. He's been very hot at home, bringing a .625 average (10-for-16) in Baltimore games into this contest, tops in the major leagues for those who've played at least four games. ... The Orioles had not allowed a first-inning run this season until Desmond Jennings started Tuesday's series opener with a homer. ... The Rays did that again in this game, and this was the second straight contest where the Rays homered in the first inning. Jennings led off Tuesday's game with a homer off Baltimore's Jake Arrieta on the first pitch. ... The .204 team average the Rays had coming into this game was the lowest in the major leagues after 14 games since Detroit was batting just .161 at that point in 2003.
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