(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Rays hope to stop the bleeding on Friday night when they open a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Tampa Bay just wrapped up a seven-game homestand by losing five straight. The offense was held to two runs or fewer in all but one game during the slide, including two shutouts. One of those shutouts came in Wednesday's series finale with Seattle as the Rays were dealt the home sweep with a 3-0 loss.
Starter Chris Archer held the Mariners off the scoreboard through eight innings, finishing with 12 strikeouts and no walks while yielding only two hits. However, Tampa Bay's lineup managed only four hits off Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, who went the distance. Nelson Cruz broke the 0-0 tie with a three- run home run in the ninth inning off closer Brad Boxberger. It was the second straight game that Boxberger allowed the go-ahead home run.
"I was trying to go fastball down and away, and I left it up to a guy who can obviously hit the ball a long way," Boxberger said of Cruz, who has 18 homers on the season. "I shouldn't have even had to face him in that inning if I could have executed my pitches earlier."
This marks the start of a 10-game road trip that will see the Rays also face the Angels and Mariners.
Meanwhile, Baltimore is in the midst of playing 21 games in 20 days through June 7. While the Rays were idle on Thursday, the Orioles were busy splitting a doubleheader with the Chicago White Sox. They lost the first game, 3-2, but then rebounded to win the nightcap, 6-3, behind 13 hits.
Mike Wright allowed two home runs in the latter contest but still earned the win as the bullpen worked four scoreless innings. Six different Orioles drove in a run.
The Orioles will turn to Miguel Gonzalez to start Friday's series opener. Gonzalez took the loss at Miami last time out as he got the hook after allowing five runs on 10 hits in just four innings. He is 5-3 with a 3.83 ERA and 44 strikeouts on the season.
Nate Karns gets the nod for Tampa Bay, and he sits at 3-2 with a 3.71 ERA and 46 K's. Despite 10 days of rest, the right-hander gave up two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings against Oakland in his last start as he fell to 3-2 on the season. Karns has a 1.54 ERA through two road starts.
The O's took two of three from the Rays when these teams met earlier this month. That series was scheduled to be played in Baltimore but wound up being shifted to Florida due to rioting in the city.