Orioles-Rays Preview

The Associated Press

Tampa Bay's pitching has silenced the Baltimore Orioles' offense for three straight days, bringing the Rays a step closer to the postseason.

The surging Rays will go for a four-game sweep Monday as they look to strengthen their grip on the top wild-card spot.

Following strong performances from David Price and Alex Cobb in the first two games of this series, Enny Romero was outstanding for Tampa Bay in his major league debut Sunday. He pitched one-hit ball over 4 2-3 scoreless innings and five relievers combined on a three-hitter in a 3-1 victory.

"The pitching has been outstanding,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We've gotten enough hitting. The defense has been great.''

Rays pitching has held the Orioles to a .163 average (20 for 123) in this series, after Baltimore batted .171 in the previous series against Boston. The Orioles have lost eight of 12, batting .207 during that span.

Baltimore's ninth-inning run Sunday was its second in the last 29 innings after going scoreless in the final 11 of Friday's 18-inning game and managing one Saturday.

"We're facing good pitching, but that's no excuse,'' center fielder Adam Jones said. "We're just not getting it done. Sometimes that's just how the game unfolds. On our side it's at the wrong time for it to unfold, but there's no complaints.''

With their eighth win in 11 tries, the Rays (86-69) maintained a one-half game lead over Cleveland in the race for the first wild-card position and extended their advantage over Texas to two games.

Baltimore (81-74), meanwhile, dropped 4 1/2 games behind the second wild-card berth with seven to play.

"We'll have to get little cooperation mathematically, but you'd be surprised how quickly the outlook on things change in one day's time,'' Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.

The Rays seek to finish their second four-game sweep of the season behind Chris Archer (9-7, 3.02 ERA). His one career start against Orioles was his second outing of the year, a 2-1 win on June 7 in which he allowed a run and two hits in seven innings.

The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last two starts, yielding two runs over six innings Wednesday in a 4-3 win over Texas.

Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 4.03) hasn't won in over a month, but that win came against the Rays. He threw seven innings of two-run ball in a 4-2 victory Aug. 21.

Since then, the left-hander is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in five starts. It's a span in which he hasn't been able to get left-handed hitters out with his usual success. He's held left-handed hitters to a .224 average for the year, but in the last five starts, they're batting .364 and slugging .727.

Chen is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in two starts against the Rays this year. He's yielded three earned runs or less in six of seven career meetings.

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria was scratched from Sunday's lineup with flu-like symptoms, though he entered the game as a defensive replacement. Center fielder Desmond Jennings left the game with left hamstring tightness.

The two are a combined 4 for 28 lifetime against Chen, but Ben Zobrist is 10 for 20 with a home run.

Tampa Bay has won 12 of 18 against Baltimore this season.

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