ST. SAINT PETERSBURG. Hagerty High alum Zack Eflin hit seven strong innings to become the AL’s third winner in 11 games as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-0 Friday night in the American League Top Team Game.
Baltimore, who won 4-3 in 10 innings on Thursday night in the first set of four games, leads Alabama East with a .608 winning percentage compared to Tampa Bay’s .604. The Orioles trailed the Rays by 6 1/2 games in early July.
Eflin (11-5) allowed 2 hits, struck out 8 and walked 1 to improve to 10-1 in 11 home starts. The right-hander joined teammate Shane McClanahan and Texas’ Nathan Eovaldi with 11 wins.
McClanahan (11-1) will make his second start after missing 2.5 weeks due to mid-defense tension against Orioles right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (2-2) on Saturday.
“It was nice to be back on track,” Eflin said. “Very very good. We had a good time after the game at the club. We will take this momentum into tomorrow.”
Eflin threw 63 of his 87 shots for strikes.
After being knocked out by Colin Pochet in the eighth round, Pete Fairbanks completed his 11th save of 12 chances by making two hitters.
“We just couldn’t do it,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. “It just wasn’t our night on the offensive.”
Isaac Paredes and José Siri scored for the Rays, who stopped a five-game drift and improved to 4–12 in July.
Paredes made it 2-0 on his solo homer off Kyle Bradish (6-5) in the sixth.
“It was a great feeling to hit a home run against a team that is obviously fighting for the division,” Paredes said through a translator.
Bradish, with consecutive wins that did not go over 13 1/3 innings, gave up 2 runs and 6 hits in six innings.
Baltimore lost just the third time in 13 games and ended a season-high streak of six road wins.
Siri hooked up with her team leader, the 20th homer on the first pitch from new Baltimore pitcher Shintaro Fujinami to kick off the seventh.
Fujinami, acquired in Oakland on Wednesday, retired with his next three batters in the Orioles debut.
Harold Ramirez took the Race out 1–0 with an RBI single in the second half.