Orioles-Rays Preview

The Associated Press

Over the last three weeks, few American League hitters have been as hot as Matt Wieters.

The Baltimore Orioles are hopeful an elbow injury won't cool Wieters down, but they won't know his status for Wednesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays until hours before the first pitch.

Wieters, who is hitting .375 with two homers, eight RBIs and a .600 slugging percentage in his last nine games, has complained of nagging soreness in his right elbow. He will travel to Pensacola, Florida on Wednesday to have the injury examined by Dr. James Andrews.

Wieters served as Baltimore's designated hitter in Tuesday's 5-3 win over Tampa Bay, going 2 for 5 with a run scored.

"He's been getting it treated for a while,'' manager Buck Showalter said. ''We just want to make sure we know what we're dealing with. He'll be back for the game. We just want to follow up. Hopefully he's catching for us (Wednesday)."

If Wieters is unable to play, the Rays (15-18) surely won't mind. He's batting .333 with five homers and 18 RBIs in 20 games in the series since the start of last season.

Baltimore's victory Tuesday came with some strange circumstances, as the game was delayed 19 minutes in the top of the eighth when a series of lights went out at Tropicana Field. When action returned, Ryan Flaherty and Nick Markakis both drove in runs to help the Orioles (16-14) avoid a third straight loss overall and snap a four-game skid in Tampa Bay.

''The lights go out, but we picked up where we left off and got a couple runs in that inning,'' Flaherty said. ''It was kind of a bizarre moment.''

The Orioles will send Bud Norris (2-2, 3.94 ERA) to the mound hoping he can win a third consecutive start. The right-hander has posted a 3.18 ERA in winning his past two outings after opening the season 0-2 with a 4.42 ERA.

This will be Norris' first start against the Rays with the Orioles after he allowed one run over 2 1-3 innings of relief in a 5-4, 18-inning loss Sept. 20.

James Loney (9 for 17) and David DeJesus (7 for 13, two homers) have both fared very well against Norris, but Ben Zobrist (1 for 8) and Evan Longoria (1 for 6) have struggled.

Cesar Ramos (1-1, 2.91) moves back into a starting role for the Rays after throwing one inning of scoreless relief against the New York Yankees on Saturday.

The left-hander made his most recent start two days earlier, allowing one run and one hit over 4 2-3 innings in a 2-1 win at Boston. Ramos walked a career-high six and matched a personal best with six strikeouts.

"Definitely not how you want to draw it up," Ramos said. "But it's frustrating, because if I get half those walks, I'm in the sixth or seventh inning."

The Rays are hoping Ramos can be more efficient and eat up some innings. Tampa's starters have completed six innings only twice in the past eight games, putting added pressure on a bullpen that has compiled a 5.13 ERA during that span.

"We obviously have to get guys deeper into games because that permits you to use the bullpen in the manner that keeps them all fresh,'' manager Joe Maddon said. "We had to use four (relievers on Tuesday). That happens because you're not getting enough outs out of your starter."

The Orioles have won all three meetings with the Rays this season, posting a 1.33 ERA.

Baltimore's J.J. Hardy, still looking for his first home run in 2014, is 5 for 9 with a pair of homers against Ramos.

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