BALTIMORE (AP) — Brandon Lowe hit a grand slam, Nelson Cruz homered for the second straight game and the Tampa Bay Rays maintained their dominance of the Baltimore Orioles with a 12-3 victory Saturday night.
Yandy Diaz and Wander Franco also went deep for the AL East-leading Rays, and Shane McClanahan (6-4) allowed three runs and five hits with eight strikeouts over a career-high seven innings.
Cruz doubled in the first inning and homered off rookie Spenser Watkins (2-3) with a man on in the fifth to put the Rays in front 4-3.
“Those go-ahead homers are big. They can really energize the team,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said.
It was a sufficient encore to Cruz’s performance on Friday night, when the 41-year-old slugger homered and had five RBIs to help beat the last-place Orioles. Since coming to the Rays in a July 22 trade with Minnesota, Cruz has four home runs and 10 RBIs in 12 games.
With or without Cruz, the Rays have what it takes to beat last-place Baltimore. Tampa Bay is 10-1 against the Orioles this season, outscoring them 85-43, and have tallied at least five runs in nine of the 11 games. The Rays are 5-0 at Camden Yards, scoring 54 runs with 16 homers.
Lowe hit his second grand slam of the season in a five-run eighth, a drive that struck the foul pole in left. Two batters later, Franco delivered a solo shot to put the Rays in double figures for the second straight game.
In the ninth, Lowe stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded and looking at a chance to hit another slam.
“Walking to the plate, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t go through my head,” he said. “Eight RBIs has a nice ring to it.”
He instead drew a walk to force in a run, giving him five RBIs.
Cedric Mullins homered for the Orioles, extending his career-best hitting streak to 15 games. The two-run drive gave Baltimore a 3-2 lead in the third, but McClanahan allowed only one hit over his final four innings.
The game was close until Baltimore’s bullpen allowed seven runs over the final two innings. Manager Brandon Hyde has tried in vain to find a few relievers he can count on, but no one has proven to be dependable or effective.
“We’re not throwing the ball well out of the pen. We’re inconsistent,” Hyde said. “We don’t command the ball very well, so we have some good nights and we have some bad nights. That’s how it’s been here the last three years.”
Baltimore has given up at least 10 runs in four straight games, including the final two of a series at Yankee Stadium. It’s the first time the Orioles have allowed double-digits in runs over four successive teams since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954 (according to STATS).
Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier left in the third inning with right knee soreness. … RH reliever Collin McHugh was activated from the 10-day injured list after being sidelined since July 21 with arm fatigue. “I’m ready to rock and roll,” said McHugh, who was 3-1 with a 1.51 ERA before the injury. RH reliever Louis Head was optioned to Triple-A Durham. … Slugger Randy Arozarena missed a second straight day while on the COVID-19 IL. Cash said there was no update and that the team would “continue to take it day to day.” … Sidelined since April 10 with forearm tightness, RHP Chris Archer will have a bullpen session Monday.
Orioles: C Pedro Severino was lifted in the fourth inning with a right knee contusion. … OF/1B Ryan Mountcastle appears headed for the concussion IL, Hyde said. Mountcastle left Friday night’s game after being tagged in the head and was still experiencing symptoms on Saturday.
Rays: RH Michael Wacha (2-3, 5.26 ERA) starts in the series finale Sunday looking to bounce back from a rare rocky performance. Wacha allowed six runs over four innings in a loss to Seattle on Monday, absorbing his first loss in seven starts since June 18.
Orioles: Jorge Lopez (3-12, 5.91) tries to maintain some positive momentum after beating the Yankees on Monday for his first win since June 6.
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