ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Zach Eflin pitched seven strong innings to become the AL's third 11-game winner, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-0 on Friday night in a matchup of the top teams in the American League.
Baltimore, which won 4-3 in 10 innings on Thursday night in the opener of the four-game set, leads the AL East with a .608 winning percentage compared to Tampa Bay's .604. The Orioles trailed the Rays by 6 1/2 games at the beginning of July.
Eflin (11-5) allowed two hits, struck out eight and walked one, improving to 10-1 in 11 starts at home. The right-hander joined teammate Shane McClanahan and Texas' Nathan Eovaldi with 11 victories.
“It was nice to get back on track,” Eflin said. ”It feels really, really good. We had a good time postgame in the clubhouse. We'll take that momentum into tomorrow."
Eflin threw 63 of his 87 pitches for strikes. After Colin Poche struck out the side in the eighth, Pete Fairbanks finished the two-hitter for his 11th save in 12 chances.
“We just didn’t get anything going,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “It just wasn’t our night offensively.”
Isaac Paredes and Jose Siri homered for the Rays, who stopped a five-game skid and improved to 4-12 in July.
Paredes made it 2-0 on his solo homer off Kyle Bradish (6-5) in the sixth.
“It was a great feeling to hit a home run against the team that obviously we're fighting for the division," Paredes said through a translator.
Bradish, coming off consecutive wins in which didn't allow a run over 13 1/3 innings, gave up two runs and six hits in six innings.
Baltimore lost for just the third time in 13 games, and had a season-high six-game road win streak end.
Siri connected for his team-leading 20th homer on the first pitch from new Baltimore reliever Shintaro Fujinami to start the seventh.
Fujinami, acquired from Oakland on Wednesday, retired his next three batters in his Orioles debut.
“Got ambushed there that first pitch,” Hyde said. “But after that, wow, I thought he had great stuff. Throwing over 100 (mph). He's got a really nice split.”
Harold Ramírez put the Rays up 1-0 with a second-inning RBI single.
The Rays signed shortstop Brayden Taylor, taken 19th overall in this year’s draft. He hit .308 with 23 homers and 70 RBIs in 58 games at Texas Christian University.
Rays: C Francisco Mejía went on the 10-day IL with a sprained left knee. He will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
McClanahan (11-1) will make his second start after missing 2½ weeks with mid-back tightness against Orioles RHP Grayson Rodriguez (2-2) on Saturday.
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