ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Brian Matusz pitched seven impressive innings and Nick Markakis drove in two runs with a triple and a single, leading the Baltimore Orioles to a 4-0 victory over the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.
Matusz (9-12) allowed three hits, two of them infield singles. The rookie walked one, hit a batter with a pitch and matched a career high with eight strikeouts before being replaced by Jim Johnson.
The Rays' magic number to clinch their second playoff berth in three years remained at one. They retained a half-game lead in the division over the New York Yankees, who lost 7-5 in Toronto. The potential clincher drew a crowd of just 12,446 to Tropicana Field — well below the 23,047 Tampa Bay has averaged this season.
The Rays still had a chance to lock up a trip to the postseason Monday night with a Boston loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Markakis had an RBI triple off rookie Wade Davis (13-9) in the fifth inning. The Orioles scored three times in the seventh, with Markakis and Luke Scott delivering run-scoring singles and Ty Wigginton adding a sacrifice fly.
The loss was the first for Davis since June 27, ending a seven-game winning streak that matched the longest in Tampa Bay history.
Johnson pitched a perfect eighth for the Orioles. Koji Uehara struck out the side in the ninth to finish the three-hitter.
Baltimore was without manager Buck Showalter, suspended one game following a run-in Sunday in which Toronto star and major league home run leader Jose Bautista was twice hit by pitches. Orioles reliever Alfredo Simon was given a three-game penalty that he's appealing.
Showalter said before game that the plunkings were not intentional.
The Rays loaded the bases on two infield singles and a walk in the fifth, but Matusz escaped when Jason Bartlett grounded into a force play to end the inning. The left-hander also worked out of a jam in the first, when he struck out Ben Zobrist after giving up a single to Bartlett and hitting Willy Aybar with a pitch.
Davis, unbeaten in his previous 11 starts dating to July 8, allowed three runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings. Markakis drove in the second run charged to the Tampa Bay starter with his seventh-inning single off Randy Choate.
Wigginton followed with his sacrifice fly against Chad Qualls. Scott's RBI single off Qualls made it 4-0.
Notes: Rays third baseman Evan Longoria missed his fourth straight game because of a strained left quadriceps. Although he's resumed limited baseball drills, manager Joe Maddon said the three-time All-Star might be held out of the lineup again Tuesday and Wednesday. ... Markakis was 1 for 15 against Davis before his RBI triple. ... Jeff Niemann (2008-09) and Mark Hendrickson (2005) are the other pitchers who have won seven straight decisions for Tampa Bay.