BALTIMORE-Alex Cobb continued his comeback from a frightening injury in June. Tampa Bay also got the timely hits Baltimore can't seem to find nowadays and handed the Orioles another tough loss.
Matt Joyce and Wil Myers each got key two-run hits in the ninth and Cobb threw six-plus strong innings as the Tampa Bay Rays scored a 7-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday night at Camden Yards.
The Rays saw the Orioles go just 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and strand 15 on Monday. That's a big reason the Rays notched a 4-3 win in that game, and the Rays found more success in crucial hitting situations Tuesday.
Tampa Bay (72-52) banged out 15 hits in this game but went 7-for-15 with runners in scoring position. The Rays scored four runs on six hits in the ninth after starting the inning with a 3-2 lead.
"You go for the jugular with the lead in your last at-bat," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "They came through again."
Joyce's two-run double off T.J. McFarland made it 5-2. Myers added a two-run broken-bat single to versus Jim Johnson for a 7-2 lead.
Joyce finished 1-for-2 with three RBI - he also had an earlier sacrifice fly - and two walks. Myers (2-for-5, two RBI), Yunel Escobar (3-for-5), Ben Zobrist (2-for-5, one RBI) Kelly Johnson (2-for-3) and James Loney (2-for-5) all finished with at least two hits as the Rays now have a 5 ½-game lead over Baltimore (67-58) in the wild card race.
"It's very big for where we're at right now in the division," Zobrist said. "We're chasing the Red Sox a little bit and also trying to create some distance."
The offense helped Cobb (8-2). He was making his second start since coming off the disabled list due to a concussion he suffered when getting hit by a line drive in June. He gave up just two runs and three hits, mixing good fastballs, curves and change-ups.
"I felt really good early on," Cobb said. "The curve ball was definitely helping me out early in the game...and then my change-up starting working a little bit. I'm very close to [being back]."
He left with a 3-1 lead and the bases loaded with no outs in the seventh. Alex Torres came on and got Brian Roberts to ground into a third to second double play that brought in a run. Torres, who's come on in similar situations twice earlier this season and not allowed anything, gave up just the run which kept the Rays in front at 3-2.
Tampa Bay then broke it open in the ninth. Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer off Wesley Wright in the bottom of the inning before Fernando Rodney came on for this 29th save.
Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez (8-6) gave up three runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings and lost his third straight game.
A Gonzalez throwing error helped the Rays score the game's first run. Joyce walked to start the second and was still there with two outs when a Gonzalez pickoff attempt hit him and bounced away.
Joyce moved to second on the play and then scored on Escobar's broken-bat single to center for a 1-0 lead.
Tampa Bay returned the favor in the bottom of the inning thanks to an Evan Longoria error. The Rays third baseman was playing in the second base spot thanks to a shift against Wieters, who hit a slow grounder toward him. Longoria bobbled the ball and flipped it late to first.
J.J. Hardy then walked, and Ryan Flaherty drove in Wieters with a single to right.
The Rays took the lead back in the third. Zobrist ripped an RBI double down the right-field line to score Desmond Jennings from first. He later scored on a Joyce sacrifice fly for a 3-1 lead.
"Tampa Bay is good," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "They pitch real well, and that really gives their team a chance to really play the game offensively the way they want to because there aren't many big innings there."
NOTES: Orioles 1B Chris Davis got an assist and a putout on the same play in the second. Jose Molina hit a shot that Davis momentarily couldn't handle. It bounced toward 2B Ryan Flaherty, who then threw back to Davis for the out. ... Escobar's RBI single in the second extended his hitting streak to a season-best nine games. ... Jennings had a rough first at-bat leading off the game. He fouled off a Gonzalez pitch, and the ball went straight down and then bounced back and hit him in the right eye. Jennings was momentarily shaken up but stayed in the game.