Rays hope to snap 6-game slide in clash with O's

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Rays hope to turn things around as they continue a three-game series versus the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on Saturday.

The Rays suffered their sixth setback in a row on Friday night as J.J. Hardy's RBI single in the ninth inning lifted Baltimore to a 2-1 series-opening victory. Chris Davis, who belted a home run over the right field fence in the seventh inning, kept the inning alive with a two-out single that put Hardy in position to notch the game-winning hit.

"J.J., he's very calm," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He hits in those situations like he plays defense. Very calm and efficient."

Davis has driven in eight runs over his last five games while adding four home runs to his season total over his past four. Baltimore managed to fend off the Rays in the series opener despite Manny Machado, Jimmy Paredes and Adam Jones all going 0-for-4. Paredes, who leads the team in batting average at .331, accounted for three of the team's nine strikeouts.

Showalter received a stellar showing out of starter Miguel Gonzalez, who allowed only one run on three hits over eight innings of work. He will hope to receive a similar performance from Wei-Yin Chen, who took a no-decision after giving up three runs on 11 hits against the Astros on Monday.

Chen has made two starts against the Rays this season without a decision. He has a career record of 3-4 with a 3.39 ERA versus Tampa Bay. Baltimore second baseman Logan Forsythe is batting .353 with two home runs and five RBI in 19 at-bats versus Chen.

The Rays will counter with Erasmo Ramirez, who is set to make his second appearance at Camden Yards. Ramirez has allowed only 11 earned runs over his last 30 innings after giving up 15 in 5 1/3 innings to begin the season.

Ramirez came out of the bullpen to face Baltimore on May 3 and retired all four Orioles he faced.

Tampa Bay's offense has amassed only 10 runs and been shutout twice during the span of its current slide. Five starters went hitless on Friday, including Joey Butler, who finished 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. The Rays managed to load the bases with no outs in the ninth inning against Darren O'Day on Friday, but the Orioles's reliever was able to work his way out of the jam.

"You have to give credit to their guy on the mound in that situation," said Tampa manager Kevin Cash. "We knew in that situation we had our hands full. It's frustrating, but the guys will bounce back and get their hits."

Baltimore is 5-2 against Tampa this season. The Rays, who began the week in first place in the AL East, will fall behind the Orioles in the divisional race with a loss on Saturday.