ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays moved out of fourth place in the American League East and ahead of the Baltimore Orioles with a dominant 8-0 victory at Tropicana Field on Saturday.
The Rays scored three early runs and rode a five-run fifth inning to their 10th win in the last 13 games. By beating Baltimore (34-28) for the second straight day, Tampa Bay pushed its record to 34-27, a season-high seven games over .500, and climbed into third place behind the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East.
The Rays said Friday's 2-1 win over the Orioles was the kind of game they're supposed to play -- a close, competitive contest decided by pitching and timely hitting -- but Saturday's victory couldn't have been much different. The only similarity was the strong starting pitching performances by Chris Archer on Friday and Jeremy Hellickson on Saturday.
Hellickson, who entered Saturday's game with a 5.59 ERA this season, scattered four hits and struck out five on 96 pitches over six scoreless innings. He was backed up by equally dominant relief pitching, as Alex Torres, Jamey Wright and Kyle Farnsworth each tossed a perfect inning to shut out the Orioles.
Ben Zobrist led the way offensively for the Rays, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored. But Tampa Bay also got plenty of production from the bottom of its order, as catcher Jose Lobaton and shortstop Yunel Escobar each went 3-for-4 with an RBI.
The Rays jumped out to an 8-0 lead as the struggles of Baltimore's top prospect Kevin Gausman resumed. Coming off his first major-league quality start against the Tigers on Sunday, Gausman looked much more like the pitcher who surrendered 11 runs over his first two career outings.
The Rays, meanwhile, continued their hot hitting.
Tampa Bay got to Gausman almost immediately, as Ben Zobrist doubled with one out in the first inning and scored on Evan Longoria's RBI single to left field, part of a 25-pitch first inning for Gausman. The Rays tacked on two more runs in the second inning, when Yunel Escobar and Zobrist each hit run-scoring singles.
Zobrist got to Gausman once again in the fifth inning, leading off with a double, took third on Kelly Johnson's flyout and scored on James Loney's soft single to center field.
Gausman exited with one out in the fifth after loading the bases. Lefty reliever T.J. McFarland immediately served up a bases-clearing triple to Luke Scott and an RBI double to Jose Lobaton, giving the Rays an eight-run lead.
Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson, meanwhile, bounced back nicely from a 23-pitch first inning. After giving up two singles in the first inning but escaping unscathed, Hellickson worked three perfect innings before once again working out of trouble in the fifth.
Hellickson gave up two singles to lead off the inning. But with runners on the corners and two outs, he got Nate McLouth to fly out to end the inning.
NOTES: The Orioles reinstated right-handed reliever Pedro Strop from the 15-day disabled list before Saturday's game. Strop (0-2, 6.11 ERA) was placed on the DL on May 25, retroactive to May 24, with a lower back strain. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon said LHP David Price (strained left triceps) will need to make three minor-league rehab starts before returning to the big-league team, putting the reigning American League Cy Young winner in line to return in late June or early July. Price suffered the injury in his May 15 start and threw off a mound Friday for the first time since that game. ... Tampa Bay reliever Brandon Gomes (right lat strain) should throw in the bullpen at some point during this homestand, Maddon said, but is still a few weeks away from coming off the 15-day disabled list. ... Baltimore drafted Vanderbilt University outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, grandson of Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, on Saturday in the 14th round of the MLB draft.