1 of 5 | Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Luke Raley (R) went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI in a win over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday in Baltimore. File Photo by Steve Nesius/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Luke Raley rifled his bat through the strike zone and smacked a 409-foot home run to dead center field, leading the Tampa Bay Rays past the Baltimore Orioles and to within a game of first place of their divisional foes.
Raley hit the 110-mph solo shot in the top of the seventh inning of the 4-3 win Thursday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. The Rays outfielder went 2 for 3 and scored twice in the win.
"Hopefully I can build off of it," Raley, who hadn't homered since Aug. 24, told reporters. "It did feel good."
The Rays (91-57) matched the Orioles' (91-55) season win total with Thursday's triumph and can tie their foes for the American League East lead if they win Friday in Baltimore. They will play again Saturday and Sunday at Camden Yards, potentially giving one team an edge in the tight race for the division title.
Rays relief pitchers Colin Poche, Shawn Armstrong, Robert Stephenson and Pete Fairbanks did not allow a hit, run or walk over the final four innings of Thursday's victory. All-Star outfielder Randy Arozarena recorded a two-run triple.
Neither team scored in the first inning of the divisional matchup. The Orioles jumped ahead 1-0 when first baseman Ryan O'Hearn hit a 409-foot solo homer to lead off the bottom of the second.
Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe tied the game with an RBI single in the top of the third. Arozarena hit his RBI triple off Orioles starter Kyle Bradish four pitches later.
Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson cut into the deficit with a 383-foot solo homer off Rays starter Aaron Civale to lead off the bottom of the fourth.
The Orioles tied the game on an RBI groundout from second baseman Adam Frazier in the fifth. Neither team reached base in the sixth.
Bradish forced groundouts from designated hitter Harold Ramirez and shortstop Taylor Walls to start the seventh. Raley then stepped in to face the right-handed pitcher.
Raley failed to make contact on an 88.6-mph slider to start the exchange. He then watched three pitches miss the strike zone.
Raley smashed the next pitch -- a 3-1 slider -- for the go-ahead homer. That blast traveled 120 feet above the field before it cleared the outfield fence, according to Statcast.
Armstrong and Stephenson retired the Orioles in order in the bottom of the seventh and eighth, respectively.
Fairbanks then struck out Henderson, designated hitter Anthony Santander and O'Hearn in order in the ninth to secure the victory and his 24th save of the season.
Civale allowed four hits and three runs and logged eight strikeouts over five innings, but was not on record for a decision. Bradish allowed seven hits and four runs over seven innings to drop to 11-7 this season.
The Orioles will host the Rays at 7:05 p.m. EDT Friday in Baltimore.