Orioles-Rays Preview

The Associated Press

Now that Baltimore's longest skid of the season has ended, the Orioles hope to begin a run in the right direction.

The Orioles look to win consecutive games for the first time in two weeks Sunday when they conclude their series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Brian Matusz allowed a run and two hits over 7 1-3 innings to help Baltimore (30-23) snap its six-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory Saturday. Mark Reynolds, who had one of Baltimore's five hits, scored the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning on third baseman Drew Sutton's throwing error.

"It's nice to go out there and get back on the winning side of things," Matusz said after the Orioles' third victory in 12 games since winning five in a row May 15-19.

Though the Orioles moved back into a first-place tie with Tampa Bay (30-23) in the AL East, their offense is still struggling. They are batting .222 while averaging 2.3 runs over the last seven games.

Adam Jones, 3 for 8 since his 20-game hitting streak ended Wednesday in Toronto, and the Orioles hope to again get the best of scheduled Rays starter Matt Moore (1-5, 4.76 ERA). In his first start versus Baltimore on May 12, the left-hander gave up four runs - one earned - and four walks in 4 1-3 innings of a 5-3 loss at Camden Yards.

Jones knocked him out of the game with a two-run single in the fifth.

Moore is 0-4 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts since beating Seattle on May 1. He allowed four hits and struck out 10 in seven innings Monday, but one of those hits was a two-run homer by Adam Dunn in a 2-1 loss to Chicago.

"No question I would like to believe that he's going to build some confidence," manager Joe Maddon said. "He looked a lot more comfortable."

The Orioles counter with a pitcher having even bigger problems. Jake Arrieta (2-6, 5.37) is 0-4 with an 8.00 ERA in five starts since striking out nine in eight innings of a 5-0 win at Yankee Stadium on May 2.

He matched a season high by giving up seven runs in 4 1-3 innings of an 8-6 loss at Toronto on Tuesday. The right-hander yielded seven and a season-high 10 hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 9-8 loss to the Rays on May 13, dropping to 2-2 with a 5.46 ERA in five starts against them.

"I know the way I can throw and I know I can do it on a consistent basis," Arrieta told the Orioles' official website. "Not doing it for several starts now, it hurts. It hurts my team."

Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez had Tampa Bay's only two hits Saturday. The Rays have batted .171 and scored 18 runs while losing five of seven.

"We've faced good people, but we have to score more runs," Maddon said.

Center fielder B.J. Upton has seen his average drop from .301 to .270 after going 1 for 18 with nine strikeouts in the last five games. He's 2 for 14 with a homer versus Arrieta.

Zobrist is 2 for 7 with eight walks in the matchup. Arrieta hasn't walked any other hitter more than four times.

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