St. Petersburg, FL – Luke Scott hit a three-run triple to highlight a five-run fifth inning, and Jeremy Hellickson tossed six scoreless frames, as Tampa Bay blitzed Baltimore, 8-0, in the middle test of a three- game set from Tropicana Field.
Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar and Jose Lobaton each contributed three hits and an RBI for the Rays, who have taken the first two games in the series and 10 of 13 overall.
"Of course you look at what other teams are doing, but you have to take care of what you're doing first," said Rays manager Joe Maddon of his club's surge in a tough division. "You keep moving forward, try to get to 10 games over .500, then 15."
James Loney and Evan Longoria also drove in a run each, as Hellickson (4-2) scattered four hits and struck out five without walking a batter.
Kevin Gausman (0-3) lasted just 4 1/3 frames, charged with eight hits and seven runs while fanning six and walking three for the Orioles, who have dropped three of four.
"I'm just trying to battle every day and get back to doing what got me here," Gausman said. "There's definitely a learning curve here. I wanted to come up and hit the ground running, and it hasn't happened like that."
Tampa broke open a relatively close game with five runs in the fifth. Zobrist started it with a leadoff double, then Longoria walked with one out. Loney dumped a single to score one run, and after Gausman walked Desmond Jennings to load the bases, he was pulled for T.J. MacFarland.
Baltimore's reliever was greeted by a bases-clearing triple from Scott followed by an RBI double from Lobaton and the Rays led 8-0.
Hellickson was in control, save for giving up two hits in the first and two more in the fifth. In the former, he worked out of trouble by getting Chris Davis on a pop to third, and in the latter, Nate McLouth was retired on a fly to left. He completed his day by turning in a 1-2-3 sixth.
"It was huge, getting out of it (the fifth) with a zero and then in the bottom half, kind of putting the game out of reach," Hellickson said. "I can't even blow an eight-run lead, so it was nice to get out of that."
Alex Torres, Jamey Wright and Kyle Farnsworth combined over the next three innings to strike out four and not allow a hit.
Longoria's two-out RBI single in the home first gave the hosts a lead, then run-scoring singles by Escobar and Zobrist in the second made it a 3-0 game.
Tampa Bay notched its seventh shutout and second in June, while Baltimore was blanked for the third time and hadn't been held scoreless since a 4-0 loss to the Angels on May 3 ... Hellickson has won three straight decisions.