Rays-Orioles Preview - NBC Sports

Rays-Orioles Preview
May 30, 2015, 12:40 am

The Baltimore Orioles have yet to replicate the success that led to a division title last season, although they've been better of late.

The Tampa Bay Rays are moving in a different direction, failing to move back toward the first-place spot they held earlier this week.

Momentum should be in Baltimore's favor Saturday following a walk-off win in the series opener over Tampa Bay, which finds itself stuck in its longest losing streak this season.

The Orioles (23-24) came from behind to top the Rays 2-1 on Friday. Chris Davis hit a game-tying home run in the seventh inning and J.J. Hardy delivered a two-out, walk-off single to hand Tampa Bay (24-25) its sixth consecutive loss.

"Every game right now is big, especially against these guys," Hardy said. "It's a big win for us."

Davis is red hot, going 6 for 13 in his last four games with four home runs, seven RBIs and a 2.024 OPS.

Baltimore enjoyed stellar pitching as Miguel Gonzalez pitched eight strong innings and Darren O'Day lowered the bullpen's ERA to 1.91 over the last 13 games, although it was hardly routine. Tampa Bay loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth inning before O'Day got two strikeouts and an inning-ending groundout.

"The second part was more fun than the first," O'Day told MLB's official website. "It's not how we drew it up, but anytime you put a zero on the board is exciting."

Zach Britton has anchored the bullpen's recent success, converting his last six save opportunities without allowing a run. Two of his 13 saves have come against the Rays, who have failed to tally a hit in 3 1-3 innings against the left-hander.

Tampa Bay has not scored an earned run on Britton in the last 14 meetings, a stretch that lasts 16 1-3 innings and dates back to 2012.

Wei-Yin Chen (1-3, 3.13 ERA) will take the mound for Baltimore following two of his worst starts of the year. The left-hander snapped a string of four quality starts with four runs allowed in seven innings to Seattle on May 20, then ceded 11 hits - his most since April 3, 2014 - and three runs over five Monday against Houston.

Tampa Bay, which sat atop the division before its long losing streak, will go with Erasmo Ramirez (2-2, 6.62 ERA). Since his return to the rotation May 14, Ramirez has grown less effective in each of his three starts, culminating with five hits, five walks and five runs in six innings of a 7-2 loss Sunday to Oakland.

Ramirez owns a 3.86 ERA in two career starts against the Orioles, the most recent of which came in 2013. He worked 1 1-3 innings of scoreless relief against the Orioles on May 3.

Steven Souza Jr. returned from a left wrist sprain that had bothered him since Sunday and hit his seventh home run of the season in the opener, but he was focused on what his team - which has hit .129 with runners in scoring position over the last nine games - isn't doing.

"We've just got to bear down," Souza said. "With runners in scoring position, we've got to find ways to be productive. That's the key right now. When we have runners in scoring position, we're not doing anything, myself included. We can get better at that."

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