O's top Rays behind solid Gonzalez

O's top Rays behind solid Gonzalez

ST. PETERSBURG -- Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez fired a season-high 7 2/3 scoreless innings as Baltimore tied its "home" series with a 4-0 win over Tampa Bay on Saturday night.

Gonzalez held the Rays to four hits and one walk, striking out six to pick up his third win in four starts. The O's scored a trio of runs in the third inning, including a two-run double from Lakeland native Steve Pearce, and Caleb Joseph homered in the sixth.

Rays starter Chris Archer, coming off an outstanding April, struggled with his command and issued four walks over six innings. Archer allowed four earned runs, more than he gave up in a combined 32 1/3 innings last month.

"I was looking over some of his outings and tape. I don't know if there's anybody in baseball who threw any better in his last four starts," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Archer. "And he threw well again tonight. He just ran into Miguel, who was a little bit better."

Gonzo is great: Gonzalez turned in the Orioles' sixth consecutive start of six or more innings in a fantastic 105-pitch outing. The righty pounded the strike zone and turned in his first scoreless start of the year, lowering his ERA to 2.59 in the process.

Gonzalez's strong outing

"Last time he faced these guys, he struggled in the first inning and then turned it around and had a quality start," Joseph said. "His stuff just plays really well against these guys. As it got deeper, he really mixed in the curveball and split and really kept them off balance all night." More >

Brach gets a big out: After Gonzalez issued a two-out walk to put runners on first and second, manager Buck Showalter called on Brad Brach to face Steven Souza Jr. The righty retired him on a full-count popup behind the plate to keep Gonzalez's line intact. He also worked a 1-2-3 ninth and was credited with the save.

Brach induces popup

"He had some life on that ball. He's got such a devastating changeup," Joseph said of Brach. "That pitch has really come around for him. He's got a lot of deception, and he came in and did a good job filling in for Miggy and then closing it out in the ninth." More >

Archer hits a wall: Archer, who had issued a total of five free passes in his previous four starts, was uncharacteristically wild on Saturday night, walking four Oriole hitters in his first five innings of work. A one-out walk to Manny Machado in the decisive third inning ignited a three-run Baltimore outburst that generated all the offense the O's would need. Velocity was not a problem for Archer, however, as his fastball sat consistently in the 95-96-mph range throughout the night.

Archer's five strikeouts

"Well, Arch looked human tonight, compared with what he's done the past month," said Rays manager Kevin Cash of his ace's subpar performance. "I still thought he threw the ball well. He was battling his command a little bit, left some fastballs up in the zone, didn't quite have the 'miss' on the slider that we had seen. But the guy he was pitching against was tough. Very tough." More >

Jennings scratched: Desmond Jennings was scratched from the Rays' starting lineup prior to the game with what the team described as "recurring left knee soreness." The 28-year-old outfielder, who has now missed six games since his ailing knee forced an early exit from last Saturday's matchup with the Blue Jays, had been slated to DH. He was replaced in the lineup by Tim Beckham, who went 1-for-3 with a single and a strikeout.

"It was 100 percent my decision to take him out," said Cash, who opted to scratch Jennings as the lineup cards were being exchanged. "I just didn't think it was fair to him to try to fight through something. He's busted it trying to get back, but it's not progressing the way we want it to. It just wouldn't have been a smart decision on my part to send him out there not feeling totally comfortable." More >

"He's very underrated, and I hope it stays that way because he kind of sneaks up on people and he shuts them down. He's so consistent that we almost expect that out of him every time he goes out to pitch. You can just see it. When he's on the mound, he has a presence, and that's great for a pitcher." -- Pearce, on Gonzalez

Matt Moore will take a big step in his rehabilitation from April 2014 Tommy John surgery when he throws live batting practice at Tropicana Field on Sunday morning. It will be the first time facing hitters for the 25-year-old left-hander, who is targeting a mid-June return to the Rays' starting rotation.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters (Tommy John) caught five innings in an extended spring game on Saturday. J.J. Hardy took batting practice with the O's for the second consecutive day as he nears a rehab assignment.

Rays: Nathan Karns (1-1, 4.76 ERA) will take the ball for the Rays in the series finale at Tropicana Field on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET. The 27-year-old right-hander faced Baltimore at the Trop in his first start of the season, allowing six earned runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings of work in a game the Orioles would go on to win, 6-5.

Orioles: Lefty Wei-Yin Chen (0-1, 2.78 ERA) will look to follow up a fantastic start in Sunday's series finale against the Rays. Chen has faced Tampa Bay once this year, going 4 ⅓ innings and allowing three runs.

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Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Michael Kolligian is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.