The Tampa Bay Rays go for the series sweep against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday afternoon when the clubs close out a three-game set at Tropicana Field.
After slipping by with a 2-1 triumph in the opener on Friday, the Rays left no doubt a day later when they blanked Baltimore in an 8-0 final, the team's third win in the last four games overall. The victory also pushed Tampa Bay ahead of the O's in the American League East standings by one-half game.
Jose Lobaton, Yunel Escobar and Ben Zobrist each came away with three hits for the hosts, leaving the rest of the roster to account for just four total hits, which also happened to be the overall total for the Orioles. Luke Scott had one of those knocks, a triple in the fifth inning which plated three.
"It was huge," said Scott, who entered the game with just five hits in his last 43 at-bats. "I've been going through some adversity before. It's never fun. It's never easy, but at the same time it makes you stronger."
Tampa starter Jeremy Hellickson scattered four hits over the course of six innings, striking out five for his fourth victory of the campaign, while the bullpen held the visitors hitless the rest of the way.
Over on the other side, Baltimore's Kevin Gausman was knocked around soundly, giving up seven runs on eight hits and three walks through a mere 4 1/3 innings. He also struck out six, but in the end watched his ERA on the season expand to an unsightly 8.84.
Baltimore batters struck out a total of nine times, three coming from designated hitter Chris Dickerson, a rather unusual occurrence given that the O's enter play on Sunday as the second-most disciplined group of hitters in the AL with 407 strikeouts through 62 outings.
Taking on the Rays for the third time this season is Chris Tillman, hoping to put behind him a pair of defeats, the latest loss against the club just a couple of weeks ago when he surrendered a pair of home runs on five hits over six innings in a 3-1 defeat.
More recently, the California native challenged Houston on the road Tuesday and came away with a victory. Tillman lasted a full seven innings, giving up just one run on four hits and a couple of walks, striking out a season-best eight.
Tillman, who also suffered a setback against this same club back in April, now has a career mark of just 1-5 with a 4.99 ERA in nine all-time appearances versus the Rays.
Taking the ball for the Rays this time around is Matt Moore, already just three wins shy of his total for all of last season. The Florida native began 2013 with eight straight wins without a defeat, but that run came to an end on Tuesday when he was lit up by Detroit on the road.
Moore, who failed to record a decision in his two appearances prior to his outing at Comerica Park, was touched for six runs on seven hits and a total of six walks in a mere two innings.
This outing will actually be the third this season against Baltimore for Moore, winning both of those contests to move to 4-2 in his three-year career.
Tampa Bay now owns a 7-4 edge in the season series, winning five in a row and six of the last seven contests against the Orioles.