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Orioles hammer 3 home runs, snap Rays’ 3-game winning streak

ST. PETERSBURG — It may not be getting late early, but it’s time for the Rays to start showing they can turn their season around.

Riding a three-game winning streak back into town Friday night, Tampa Bay was at full strength with its position players for the first time this season and looking to carry over some momentum.

Instead, the Rays ran into one of the hottest, young teams in baseball. The Orioles hit three home runs and won 6-3 in front of an announced 17,822 at Tropicana Field.

The Orioles (40-22) have won 11 of their last 15 games and have hit at least three home runs in their last three games. The loss sent the Rays back below .500 at 31-32.

“That’s kind of what our record is saying,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We can’t get a lot of momentum going. But we can bounce right back (Saturday) and play a good baseball game.”

The Rays need to do that.

Before Friday’s game, they shook up their roster by designating Harold Ramirez for assignment to make room on their roster for Taylor Walls, who missed the first 62 games after offseason hip surgery. The Rays opted not to demote a player with options, president of baseball operations Erik Neander said, because they needed to put their best players on the field to try to turn their season around.

“We need to start. We need to go here, and there is some urgency,” Neander said. “I do believe that this is a group that can take off. But ... I don’t think we’re looking at 100 games left at this point in time and think like, yeah, we’ve got plenty of time, because we’ve got to make up some ground.”

The Rays dropped to 16-26 against teams with a .500 record or better, and things won’t get easier. In fact, Tampa Bay has the toughest remaining schedule in baseball based on opponents combined winning percentage (.542).

To this point, the Rays have played the fourth-easiest schedule, with an opponents winning percentage of .473. The three teams with easier schedules — Phillies, Guardians and Dodgers — are at least 15 games over .500 and in first place in their divisions.

With the trade deadline looming only seven weeks away, the Rays need to show Neander they can make up ground in the division and wild-card races.

Friday, they lost some.

Rays starter Aaron Civale allowed four runs on seven hits, including two home runs, over five innings. He walked one and struck out eight while throwing a season-high 105 pitches.

Anthony Santander led off the second inning with a homer to rightfield. Colton Cowser then singled and beat Walls’ relay throw to the plate after Ramon Urias doubled to left to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

Civale allowed a two-run shot to Ryan Mountcastle in the fifth to give Baltimore a 4-2 lead.

“There was some good in there, for sure,” Cash said. “Those (16) swing and misses, and the strikeouts that he got. It was partly him and partly their offense that drove the pitch count up, and he was behind on some guys, fell into some 3-1 counts. But overall, I thought his stuff was pretty good.”

The 13 home runs that Civale has allowed this season are tied with Tyler Alexander, Michael King and Pablo Lopez for second-most in the majors. Cleveland’s Logan Allen and Triston McKenzie have allowed 14. In his 13 starts this season, Civale has made it into the sixth inning only five times.

Jordan Westburg’s two-run homer off Chris Devenski in the eighth extended the Orioles’ lead to 6-3. It was the 82nd allowed by a Rays pitcher this season, third-most in the majors.

“It seems like they’re just doing things right against us,” Rays centerfielder Jose Siri said of the Orioles. “And it’s it’s going to be hard (to beat them).”

Siri hit his sixth home run of the season and third in his last seven games in the third inning to continue his hot streak. Over his last nine games, he has hit .333 with three doubles, three homers and eight RBIs.

Jose Caballero, who was moved to second base when Walls returned at shortstop, extended his hitting streak to five games with a double. Randy Arozarena had two hits, including the 500th of his career, to stretch his own streak to five games.

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