Baltimore, MD – Alex Cobb pitched into the seventh inning and Matt Joyce knocked in three runs, including a two-run double in the ninth, in Tampa Bay's 7-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Wil Myers stroked a two-run single in the final inning, while Ben Zobrist went 2-for-5 with an RBI double. Yunel Escobar had three hits and an RBI for the Rays, who won for the sixth time in seven games. They are in a virtual tie for first place in the AL East, three percentage points ahead of the Boston Red Sox.
"We have to keep putting the pressure on them," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Our goal is not to be the wild card team by the way. Our goal is to win the division. We're trying to do that."
Cobb (8-2), in his second start since returning from two months on the disabled list because of a concussion, stretched his unbeaten streak to 10 starts. The right-hander is 5-0 in that stretch and hasn't lost since April 30 at Kansas City. Cobb gave up three hits and a pair of runs -- one earned -- over six-plus innings.
Miguel Gonzalez (8-6) surrendered eight hits and three runs -- two earned -- over 5 2/3 innings for the fading Orioles, who lost for the sixth time in eight games.
Matt Wieters belted a two-run homer for the O's, who gave up 15 hits, one night after rapping out the same number of hits in a 4-3 loss.
"You'd be surprised at how quickly this season can slow down and things can turn quickly," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You have to be prepared to take advantage of that."
Ryan Flaherty had an early RBI single for the hosts, who scored only one run in a promising seventh inning in which they loaded the bases with nobody out. Alex Torres entered from the bullpen and retired Brian Roberts on 5-4 double play, which scored Wieters to trim Baltimore's deficit. Nate McLouth was caught looking at strike three for the inning's final out to leave the O's behind just 3-2.
The Rays broke the game open in the ninth against T.J. McFarland and Jim Johnson. Singles from Kelly Johnson and Desmond Jennings, and a one-out intentional walk to Evan Longoria loaded the bases. Joyce then doubled sharply over first base for a 5-2 game. Johnson entered from the bullpen, but Myers tacked on a broken-bat two-run single to right.
Wieters homered to left off Wesley Wright with Nick Markakis aboard in the ninth. J.J. Hardy then walked, but Fernando Rodney retired the ensuing three batters to secure his 29th save of the year.
Escobar singled in Joyce in the second when Gonzalez committed a throwing error to put the runner in scoring position.
Flaherty's single to right plated Wieters in the bottom of the second, but the Rays went ahead with two runs in the third. Zobrist doubled to right to score Jennings. Joyce's sacrifice fly to right came after Longoria singled up the middle.
The Rays go for the three-game sweep Wednesday night with Jeremy Hellickson (10-6) on the mound, while Wei-Yin Chen (6-6) pitches for the Orioles ... The Rays have won 15 of their last 19 games against AL East clubs ... Tampa Bay has won seven of the last eight meetings and leads the season series against the Orioles, 9-5.