ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Kevin Gausman pitched six shutout innings, Steve Pearce’s opposite-field double snapped a scoreless tie and Nelson Cruz added his major league-leading 22nd home run to help the Baltimore Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 on Wednesday.
Pearce homered during a 7-5 victory on Tuesday night, and put the Orioles ahead this time with a line drive down the right field line that drove in Nick Markakis from first base in the fifth inning.
Alex Cobb (2-5) would have gotten through the fifth inning unscathed if second baseman Ben Zobrist hadn’t mishandled Markakis’ grounder for an error.
Gausman (3-1) allowed five hits, walked one and struck out five, including Zobrist and James Loney after the Rays loaded the bases with no outs in the first.
The Rays were blanked for an AL-leading 11th time, finishing with five hits and going 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
Cobb yielded four hits and four walks in seven innings. The right-hander fanned six in his sixth start since returning from a five-week stay on the disabled list with a left oblique strain.
Pearce went 2 for 4 and is hitting .444 with three homers, three doubles, five walks, five runs scored and six RBIs against Tampa Bay this year. Most of the damage has come at Tropicana Field, where the Orioles have won five of six meetings between the AL East rivals to build a 7-1 lead in the season series.
Cruz, who also leads the majors with 58 RBIs, homered for the first time since June 3. The solo shot off Kirby Yates made it 2-0 in the eighth.
Tommy Hunter pitched two perfect innings and Zach Britton worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his ninth save in 10 opportunities.
The Rays loaded the bases in the first on a leadoff walk, Kevin Kiermaier’s single and shortstop J.J. Hardy’s fielding error. Gausman worked out of the jam, striking out Loney and Zobrist before getting David DeJesus to foul out along the left field line to end the threat.
The Rays wasted another opportunity in the sixth when Evan Longoria had a leadoff double, Loney struck out and Zobrist hit a soft liner to left field that Pearce caught on the run before tossing the ball to second for a double play.
NOTES: Pearce, who grew up in nearby Lakeland, has three homers in 18 at-bats against the Rays this season. All of the homers have come at Tropicana Field. … After striking out with the bases loaded in the first and hitting into a double play in the sixth, Zobrist has one hit in his last 36 at-bats with runners in scoring position. … The Orioles have Thursday off before beginning a weekend series at Yankee Stadium, with RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (2-8) facing RHP Hiroki Kuroda (4-5) on Friday. The Rays continue a 10-day homestand, opening a four-game set against Houston, with RHP Chris Archer going against RHP Collin McHugh (4-4) on Thursday.
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