O's can't solve Cobb, Rays to support Chen

Lefty's scoreless outing not enough as AL East leaders go quietly

O's can't solve Cobb, Rays to support Chen

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Orioles' countdown to clinching the American League East was temporarily put on hold Friday night as the Rays rallied for three runs in the eighth inning and blanked Baltimore, 3-0, at Tropicana Field.

"We just didn't score any runs," said O's manager Buck Showalter, emphasizing the obvious as the club was shut out for the 10th time this season. "They put a goose egg up there. We just couldn't push anybody across.

"It doesn't really matter a whole lot. They pitched a little better than we did."

Even so, the Orioles' magic number was reduced to 14 as the Yankees and Blue Jays both lost Friday night. Baltimore continues to hold a 9 1/2-game lead over New York.

The Rays loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth when Evan Longoria and Wil Myers singled off reliever Ryan Webb, and Evan Meek followed by walking James Loney. Longoria crossed the plate with the first run of the game when second baseman Jonathan Schoop was unable to handle Yunel Escobar's infield single. Ryan Hanigan then drove home two more runs with a single to left.

Webb got two strikes on both Longoria and Myers before giving up the hits.

"I had two strikes, I got ahead, but they weren't really quality two-strike pitches," said Webb, who was called up on Sept. 2 and hadn't pitched since Aug. 27. "The pitches were kind of out over the plate. I need to make better two-strike pitches."

For the first six innings, the game was a pitchers' duel, as Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen and Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb matched zeros. Chen shut out the Rays on four hits over the first six innings, walking three and striking out three.

"He gave us six solid innings," Showalter said of Chen (14-4) who has lost just twice in his last 21 starts dating back to May 9. "He made a lot of good pitches."

Friday marked only the second time this season -- both against the Rays -- that the Orioles have not scored a run on Chen's behalf. Chen entered Friday night's game with a Major League-best 5.92 runs of support per game.

Chen faced six Rays batters and threw 36 pitches in the second inning, but he escaped unscathed when he got Sean Rodriguez to fly out to right with the bases loaded.

"That inning, I allowed a lot of foul balls," said Chen, through an interpreter. "I was fortunate to get out of there without giving up any runs. After that inning, I tried to be more effective. I tried to attack the hitters, not wasting any pitches that I didn't need to."

Cobb worked seven innings for the Rays, holding the O's to six hits, all of them singles. Relievers Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee held the Orioles hitless the rest of the night, striking out five and walking none over the final two innings.

"One run, the way they were pitching, the way they were in the bullpen, was going to be tough," Showalter said.

Chen is 3-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 13 career starts against the Rays, including a 1-2 record in seven starts at The Trop. He's faced the Rays in five games this season, winning one and losing one.

Jim Hawkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.