By Bradley Walker, 1010 Sports

BALTIMORE (CBS) Within a week the Tampa Bay Rays have gone from pretender to contender after winning their fifth consecutive game in Baltimore Monday night.

The Rays have disrupted the AL Wild Card race with a late surge to pull them to within three games of the slumping Red Sox.

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Jeff Niemann helped the Rays pick up the 5-2 win after a pair of forgettable outings against the Texas Rangers. He pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on six hits.

The Rays’ offense has been a huge part of their success as they continue to produce enough runs to help out the starting pitchers.

Zach Britton took the mound for the O’s and faced the wrath of Ben “Zorilla” Zobrist in the third inning. With two men on base, Zobrist pounded a fast ball into the gap in left-center field to put the Rays up 2-0.

Sean Rodriguez singled in the third to drive in Zobrist and extend the lead to three.

Baltimore answered with a run in the fifth and sixth innings to cut the lead to two, but Zobrist picked up his third RBI in the seventh to cap the Rays’ scoring at five.

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Although B.J Upton did not drive in any runs, the man has been on a tear at the plate during the Rays late season comeback. After going 4-for-4 with a grand slam on Sunday, he picked up right where he left off with two doubles in the series opener against Baltimore.

For Tampa Bay, playoff baseball has already begun. They will be playing catch up to make up for lost time, but it’s great that they finally decided to show up.

They look to extend their win streak to six games when they face the Orioles tonight at 7:05 PM ET.



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