Hardy, Tillman lead O's over skidding Rays

Hardy, Tillman lead O's over skidding Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- J.J. Hardy's two-run homer proved to be the difference in a well-played 2-1 Orioles win over the Rays Saturday night at Tropicana Field.

The American League East-leading Orioles claimed their fourth consecutive win while the last-place Rays took their eighth consecutive defeat. The Rays have now lost 24 of their last 27 games. Baltimore's starter Chris Tillman fired seven innings to pick up his 13th win.

"What did he have ... three walks? Didn't feel like it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Tillman. "It's a place pitchers like to pitch … Chris would've [had] a good outing regardless."

Matt Moore started for the Rays and retired the first five batters he faced before Matt Wieters singled on a line drive to left. Hardy followed with his fourth home run of the season, lifting a 2-1 Moore offering into the left-field stands for a 2-0 Orioles lead.

Logan Morrison tripled to lead off the Rays' fourth. The next hitter, Steven Souza Jr., drove him home with a single through the middle to cut the Orioles' lead to 2-1. Souza's single snapped an 0-for-17 stretch.

"I think it's fairly obvious Matt Moore was pretty outstanding again for us," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Gave us every opportunity to win. It stinks when you lose a ballgame on one pitch. That's kind of summing up how it's going for us right now."

Moore took the loss, falling to 5-7.

Tillman time: The O's righty needed just 92 pitches to record his team-leading 13th win, giving the bullpen a big boost. He struck out three but allowed three walks to go along with four hits. Brad Brach and Zach Britton held the lead, the latter notching his 29th save.

"It ended up good," Tillman said. "I think early on ... I was fighting to get in rhythm. I felt like I had been the last couple of starts. You've got to fight to get into rhythm, and once you hit on a couple pitches, you get in stride a little bit and you go from there. It got better as the game went on." More >

Tillman's one-run start

Moore delivers: Moore entered the game having thrown at least six innings in his previous seven starts. Make that eight. Moore allowed two runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings. His ERA over his last seven starts is 2.51. The left-hander was particularly efficient in the pitch-count department, throwing just 93 pitches.

"They're also a very aggressive team," Moore said when asked if pitching to contact allowed him to keep his pitch count low. "That's going to allow that to happen a little more." More >

Moore's strong start

Go Hard-y: The O's shortstop's fourth blast of the season was the difference-maker for the Orioles.

"I'm not thinking about the shoulder at all," Hardy said of his power swing. "I know I was a lot last year. I'm not thinking about it anymore, so I think that's the biggest thing."

7-6-2: With one out in the ninth, Chris Davis doubled to left off Enny Romero. Brandon Guyer quickly retrieved the ball, hit the cutoff man, shortstop Brad Miller, who threw a strike to Luke Maile at home. The Rays' catcher tagged out Mark Trumbo trying to score from first to keep the Orioles' lead at 2-1.

Miller nabs Trumbo at home

"He's a good middle-in hitter. ... I thought the pitch, from what I saw from video replay, looked like a good pitch, leaning towards that corner. He just made a better swing." -- Moore, on the 2-1 fastball Hardy hit for a two-run homer

"Kind of funny, [Sunday's starter] Dylan [Bundy] -- the starter leaves for the day game after the fifth inning. [Pitching coach Dave Wallace] makes them say, 'Hey, I'm leaving.' He was real sheepish about it. He's going, 'Do I go to the bullpen or the dugout?' He's been in the dugout the past two days. … You think about all the trials Dylan has fought his way through to get back to this opportunity tomorrow. So, regardless of what happens, it's got a lot of good things about it." -- Showalter, on Bundy's first Major League start Sunday

During the Rays' 3-24 skid, they have been outscored 162-83. They were 5 1/2 games out of first at the start of the stretch and were 19 1/2 out at the end of Saturday's game.

The Orioles came out on top of a crew-chief review after Morrison's fourth-inning drive bounced off the left-field railing. Morrison was originally granted a homer, but after a two-minute review, the call was overturned and he was placed at third base.

Morrison triples after review

Orioles: Orioles rookie Bundy will make his first career start in the series finale on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. Bundy has been in the O's bullpen, and the team is in desperate need of some rotation help. The 24-year-old is in his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013.

Rays: Jake Odorizzi (3-4, 4.33) makes his 20th start of the season, and first of the second half against an Orioles team that he's struggled against overall but had success against at Tropicana Field. He's 1-0 with a 2.39 ERA in five appearances at home. He's 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in three starts against the Orioles this season..

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.