Rays offense comes to life with three homers vs O's

Rays offense comes to life with three homers vs O's

Rays offense comes to life with three homers vs O's
BALTIMORE -- The Rays' bats were due for an explosion, and Jose Lobaton was due for some ice cream.

Lobaton belted his first career home run in the Rays' 10-1 win against the Orioles on Wednesday night, and was promptly treated to a few scoops of ice cream in the dugout.

The dessert came courtesy of teammate Luke Scott, who two weeks ago told Lobaton to stop eating ice cream.

"The day you're going to get ice cream is when you're going to hit a homer," Lobaton remembered Scott telling him.

Entering Wednesday's game with only a .218 average in 101 at-bats this season, Lobaton wanted to go for a simple single.

On the other hand, the catcher was in the mood for some ice cream.

When Lobaton stepped to the plate in the fifth inning and hit a towering three-run blast to right, extending the Rays' lead to 10-1 and all but putting the Orioles away, Scott came through on his end of the bargain, bringing Lobaton a spoon and a few chocolate scoops before the inning even ended.

"I was like, 'Oh, OK, I'm going to enjoy the ice cream," Lobaton said.

Right there in the dugout, Lobaton got started on his snack. When the inning finished three batters later, he returned to the field, caught the bottom of the fifth, and went back to the dugout to finish off his snack.

"It's OK to deliver the ice cream, it's kind of different when the guy actually eats it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But there was no doubt in my mind that Lobaton would eat a cup of ice cream if it's presented to him at any time of the day, especially following his first big league home run. I was fine with it."

"That was delicious," Lobaton said.

Equally delicious for the Rays was their extra-large serving of offense, something that had been sorely missed in recent months.

Entering Wednesday, the Rays batting average since Evan Longoria went on the disabled list at the beginning of May was a Major League worst .225, translating into just 3.9 runs per game.

They bucked that trend in a big way against the O's, pounding out 11 hits, including a 4-for-9 showing with runners in scoring position after only notching four hits in their previous 34 tries. The win pulled the Rays into a second-place tie with Baltimore in the American League East and secured a series win for only the second time in their last eight chances.

The Rays matched their run total from the previous three games when they scored five in the first inning alone, ultimately reaching double-digits in runs for only the fifth time this season.

Lobaton ended up with a career night, finishing 3-for-3 with four RBIs.

"He finally thinks he belongs here. I believe that's part of what you're seeing," Maddon said. "Loby had a really nice night, so there were a lot of guys who participated well."

Eight different Rays recorded a hit on Wednesday, with five players driving in runs.

Only three hours after arriving at Camden Yards and meeting his new teammates for the first time, third baseman Ryan Roberts hit a fastball over the outer half of the plate into the Orioles bullpen in left-center to extend the Rays lead to 7-1 in the third.

"It's great to get him on the ground like that," Maddon said. "It's always fun to get that guy in the lineup the first night and then he comes out and contributes like he did, he feels a part of what we're doing now, and that's always a good thing."

Rays starter David Price gave up a run in the first before recording an out, but the left-hander cruised through the rest of his seven innings.

Nick Markakis opened the first inning with a single to left. After he moved to second on a wild pitch, J.J. Hardy plated him with a grounder down the first-base line.

From there, Price returned to his normal, dominant form, allowing only five more baserunners to earn his Major League leading 14th win.

"At the end of the day, it's always about starting pitching," Maddon said. "I thought David was really sharp tonight. With everything. He had everything going on tonight."

Price struck out 10 batters, his second-highest total of 2012, including six via the curveball.

"[That was] probably one of the best curves I've seen him have in recent memory," Maddon said. "He broke out the hook in a really good manner."

The left-hander did not allow a walk for the second time this season, putting together another strong outing to keep himself in the thick of the Cy Young discussion.

"It's nice when your pitcher is able to just keep it rolling for you and not give the other team any hope whatsoever," Maddon said, "And he did not permit them back into the game."

Greg Luca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.