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J.J. Hardy's homer helps Baltimore Orioles' Chris Tillman snag 13th win

By Greg Auman, The Sports Xchange
J.J. Hardy's homer helps Baltimore Orioles' Chris Tillman snag 13th win
Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado (13) is congratulated by teammate J.J. Hardy. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Baltimore starter Chris Tillman picked up his 13th win of the season on Saturday, holding the reeling Tampa Bay Rays to four hits in seven innings as the Orioles pulled out a 2-1 win at Tropicana Field.

J.J. Hardy's two-run homer in the second inning was enough for the Orioles (53-36), who have won six of seven.

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The Rays (34-56) are at the other extreme, having lost eight in a row, 12 of 13 and 24 of 27 -- the last is the worst stretch by any American League team since 2003.

Zach Britton pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two, for his 29th save of the season and his second in as many nights.

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Tillman (13-2) has beaten the Rays three times -- Baltimore won another one of his starts against Tampa Bay, where he took a no-decision -- and he was able to outduel Rays starter Matt Moore (5-7), who pitched well in defeat, holding Baltimore to five hits in 7 1/3 innings.

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The Rays have lost the last four games while holding opponents to four runs or less in each, but they've been outscored 14-5 in the four games.

Baltimore nearly added to its lead in the ninth, but Mark Trumbo was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on a double by Chris Davis, before reliever Kevin Jepsen got the final out with the bases loaded.

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Tillman, who had already been on the mound for three Baltimore wins against Tampa Bay this season, kept the Rays' bats in check. He needed only eight pitches in the first inning.

Baltimore took a 2-0 lead in the second when Matt Wieters singled to left field and Hardy followed with a two-run homer to left, his fourth home run this season. Nolan Reimold followed with a single, and those three consecutive hits were the Orioles' only hits in the first six innings.

The Rays had two on and one out in the third after Luke Maile's ground-rule double and a walk to Logan Forsythe, but Tillman got Brad Miller to pop out, then struck out Evan Longoria, who entered the game with seven career home runs against him.

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Tampa Bay got a run back in the fourth -- Logan Morrison hit a long drive to left field that bounced off the top of the wall. Morrison had gotten to third base, and then the umpire ruled it a home run, but the call was reversed after an official review. Steven Souza followed with an RBI single to make it 2-1 but was promptly thrown out trying to steal second.

Moore had been the Rays' steadiest pitcher during their 3-23 stretch, the worst in franchise history. He was 2-2 during that span and the rest of the staff was 1-21.

NOTES: Baltimore LHP Zach Britton was 28-for-28 after Friday's save, extending his team record for most consecutive saves without a blown one. He leads the American League and is one of five Orioles pitchers ever to reach 100 career saves. Gregg Olson has the team record with 160. ... During its 3-23 stretch entering Saturday's game, Tampa Bay not only has the worst record in baseball, it also has the honor of both the majors' highest team ERA (5.91) and the lowest team batting average in the AL (.240). ... Rays CF Kevin Kiermaier returned Friday after missing nearly two months with a broken hand. He still ranks third in the AL in defensive runs saved with seven, behind only Toronto's Kevin Pillar (14) and Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain (10), according to Baseball-Reference.

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