ST. SAINT PETERSBURG. Gunnar Henderson and Ryan O’Hearn hit it big when the East-leading Baltimore Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on Sunday to take three of four in the weekend series.
The Orioles, who started on July 6.5 behind Tampa Bay, are two games ahead of the Race after winning their 12th time in 15 games.
“We just played four really good games against a really good team,” said Oriole manager Brandon Hyde. “I am very proud of all our guys. We have done a lot of good things in this series. I hope we can continue like this.”
Forward Mike Baumann (7-0) went through two over 2 2/3 innings and Felix Batista conceded singles in the ninth inning to Manuel Margot and Yandy Diaz before making his 28th save as four Baltimore pitchers combined on three hitters. The Baltimore pitchers passed 6 and hit 2 batters.
Bautista finished it by eliminating Wander Franco with runners in first and third.
“For some guys who don’t have playoff experience like me, it was like a playoff game,” Henderson said. “Really getting an idea of what it’s like. This will help us in the future.”
Diaz appeared for the Rays, who had a worst record of 4–14 in July. This is the first time Tampa Bay has lost a home series to the Orioles since June 2017.
O’Hearn put the Orioles up 4–3 on a 331-foot opposite field homer down the left field line from Colin Pochet (7–3) in the sixth. He had a tiebreak hit in the ninth inning, one RBI in the Orioles’ 6–5 win on Saturday.
Baltimore led 5–3 on Anthony Santander’s RBI single during the seventh.
Diaz equalized at 3 with the Rays’ first hit off a wild Tyler Wells, two-time homer after a run to Christian Betancourt in the fifth. Wells was replaced by Baumann after the retirement of the next batter, Franco.
“Ideally, this offense is too good to be kept quiet for so long,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We got picked up by Yandy, but I like to think we can have the best bats together to put a little more pressure on the pitchers.”
In the end, Wells allowed three runs, one hit, four walks, hit two batters, and struck out five in 4 1/3 innings. The right-hander completed just 26 walks and batted one batter in 106 2/3 innings coming into the game.
“That’s what our team does, picking up each other,” Wells said. “That’s an important reason why we’re in the first place right now.”
Adly Rutchman had an RBI double in the first inning before Henderson made it 3-0 with a 446-foot drive in the second.
The Rays got within 3-1 in the fourth on a couple of walks and fielder’s choice of grounder Brandon Lowe.
DICKIE V IN THE HOUSE
College basketball icon and Ray fan Dick Vitale attended the game the day before the start of a six-week course of radiation therapy for vocal cord cancer.
Rays RHP Yonny Chirinos was declared a waiver by Atlanta. He went 4–4 with a 4.02 ERA in 15 games.
Orioles: RHP Dean Kremer (10-4) is looking to be the AL’s fourth winner in 11 games on Monday night against Philadelphia LHP Christopher Sanchez (0-3). Shane McClanahan and Zach Eflin of Tampa Bay and Nathan Eovaldi of Texas lead the league with 11 wins.
Race: RHP Tyler Glasnow (3-3) will play Miami RHP Edward Cabrera (5-5) on Tuesday night.