BALTIMORE (AP) — A season-defining road trip started on a positive note for the Tampa Bay Rays, who still have designs of reaching the postseason as a wild-card entrant.
Chris Archer pitched six shutout innings, and Tampa Bay hit three home runs in a 6-3 victory over the fading Baltimore Orioles on Monday night.
By the time the Rays finish their nine-game run through Baltimore, Yankee Stadium and Detroit, they should have a pretty good read on their chances of reaching the playoffs.
"Great way to start off the long road trip," said manager Kevin Cash, who beforehand called this "a big series for both teams trying to claw their way back into this thing."
At this point, the Orioles are clinging by their fingernails. Baltimore has lost 11 of 12 and trailed in this one 6-0.
Although the Rays are a game below .500, a few more victories like this might make things interesting.
"Oh yeah, definitely," shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera said. "If we play hard and put some wins together, you never know what could happen in a month."
Cabrera and Evan Longoria homered off Wei-Yin Chen (8-7), and Tim Beckham added a solo shot against Brad Brach. Logan Forsythe had a single, double and triple.
Archer (12-10) gave up four hits, walked three and struck out six to earn his first win against Baltimore in seven starts since June 7, 2013. The right-hander finished the month with 50 strikeouts, tying the club record for August held by Scott Kazmir (2007).
"It seemed like he really settled in after about the 80th pitch," Cash said. "We're not going to nitpick, though. It was a pretty outstanding outing."
Brad Boxberger, the third Rays reliever, worked the ninth for his 33rd save.
The Orioles, meanwhile, have been held to three runs or fewer in all 11 losses of this skid. Manager Buck Showalter put together a revamped lineup in an effort to shake the team out of its funk, but moving Manny Machado to shortstop and starting all three catchers failed to achieve the desired result.
Machado, a third baseman who won a Gold Glove in 2013, started at shortstop for the first time in the big leagues. He made an excellent play in the sixth, ranging far to his right to make a backhand pickup in the hole before making an off-balance, one-hop throw that retired Rene Rivera.
Showalter got his three catchers in the lineup by placing Caleb Joseph behind the plate, shifting Matt Wieters to first base and using Steve Clevenger as the designated hitter.
Clevenger drove in two runs, but Baltimore stranded 11 and was 3 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
"We did some good things getting some people out there," Showalter said. "It seems like we're always a hit away."
Chen allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings. The left-hander was 4-0 in seven starts since July 21.
"I think there was something off with my mechanics," Chen said through an interpreter.
Forsythe singled with two outs in the fourth, and Cabrera followed with his 10th home run to make it 3-0. A bases-empty drive by Longoria capped a two-run fifth, and Beckham led off the sixth with his seventh homer for a 6-0 lead.
A two-run single by Clevenger highlighted a three-run seventh against Matt Andriese.
LONG TIME COMING
Rays: Forsythe's triple was his first since April 28, ending a career-long stretch of 106 games without a three-bagger.
Orioles: Machado's last start at SS in a pro game was on Aug. 12, 2012 while with Double-A Bowie.
Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier left in the third inning with a mild right ankle sprain. He leapt for a sensational, home-run-robbing catch of a drive by Machado in the bottom of the first. Before the game, Cash called Kiermaier "the best center fielder in the game."
Orioles: Pitching prospect Dylan Bundy has been cleared by Dr. James Andrews to start a throwing program. Bundy has a calcium buildup in his right shoulder.
Rays: Drew Smyly (1-2, 3.82 ERA) makes his fourth start since returning from the 60-day DL on Tuesday night. He's 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA lifetime against Baltimore.
Orioles: Chris Tillman (9-9, 4.58 ERA) takes a third stab at his 10th win of the season.