BALTIMORE (AP) In a matchup between the top two teams in the American League, Shane McClanahan and the Tampa Bay Rays kept right on cruising.
McClanahan pitched six impressive innings to become this season's first seven-game winner, and Josh Lowe and Luke Raley homered to lift the Rays to a 3-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night. Tampa Bay extended its AL East lead to 6 1/2 games over a Baltimore team that started fast this season but - like everyone else in baseball - is struggling to keep up with the Rays.
“The Orioles are playing great baseball right now. They're a fun team to watch,” McClanahan said. “That's a fun team to play. You always want to be the best, but you've got to play the best.”
It's a similar challenge for the Orioles. After losing two of three - both one-run defeats - in a competitive series at Atlanta, Baltimore fell to Tampa Bay. This is the first three-game losing streak of the season for the Orioles, who still have the AL's second-best record.
McClanahan (7-0) allowed four hits and four walks and struck out seven.
Kyle Gibson (4-2) pitched well in defeat, allowing two runs in six-plus innings. Lowe hit a solo shot leading off the second and Raley added one in the ninth. Wander Franco hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Colin Poche and Kevin Kelly followed McClanahan for Tampa Bay, and Jason Adam struck out three in the ninth for his fourth save. The Rays already have seven shutouts this year.
The Orioles lost a series opener for the first time all season after winning their first 11.
McClanahan did have a few problems to pitch through. A walk and an infield hit to start the bottom of the fourth put men on first and second. One out later, Adam Frazier's blooper to shallow left was caught by Franco, the shortstop. He easily doubled Anthony Santander off second.
The following inning, another leadoff walk by McClanahan was erased by a double play.
“We put a couple of rallies together. We just didn’t get a big hit," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. "When you’re facing somebody like that, I thought we grinded. We just had a tough time against him. We just didn’t get that big hit with runners in scoring position.”
After the Rays went up 2-0, the Orioles put men on second and third in the seventh, but Adley Rutschman's third strikeout of the day ended that threat.
The Rays have an MLB-best 21 multi-homer games and are 19-2 when they do that. Only two teams in the modern era - the 1984 Tigers and 1902 Pirates - have posted a better record through 36 games than Tampa Bay's 29-7 mark.
“Just a group of guys that are doing a lot of things well,” manager Kevin Cash said. “All facets of our team are performing really, really well.”
BACK IN BALTIMORE
McClanahan is a Baltimore native, so he appreciates the chance to pitch at Camden Yards.
“I've always been asking the last couple years, about three years or so ... ‘Hey, when’s Cal (Ripken) going to come by?’” McClanahan said. “It's a great stadium, great fans.”
McClanahan is 6-0 in eight career starts against the Orioles.
Rays: Tampa Bay put LHP Garrett Cleavinger on the 15-day injured list with what Cash said appears to be a right ACL injury.
Orioles: RHP Mychal Givens (left knee inflammation) and RHP Dillon Tate (right elbow flexor strain) are expected to pitch Wednesday for Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk. The Orioles also announced that RHP Joey Krehbiel cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Norfolk. ... 3B Ramón Urías exited with a left hamstring strain after hitting a ninth-inning single.
Orioles rookie Grayson Rodriguez (1-0) takes the mound Tuesday night against Tampa Bay's Zach Eflin (4-0). Eflin threw seven scoreless innings Thursday against Pittsburgh.
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