Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore
(Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays return home after a successful road trip tonight to start a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.
Pitching drove the Rays on their 6-3 trek, as they pitched to a 1.70 ERA and claimed series wins in Baltimore, Anaheim and most recently, Oakland.
On Wednesday against Oakland, Alex Cobb fired seven innings of one-run ball, propelling Tampa to a 4-1 win. Carlos Pena clubbed an RBI double and added a solo home run in the eighth for the Rays, who enter tonight's set tied with the Orioles for second place in the American League East and 1 1/2 games back of the second wild card spot in the league.
Cobb (5-8) surrendered just four hits and one walk while striking out six to snap a three-start losing skid. Fernando Rodney tossed a scoreless ninth to nail down his 31st save of the season.
"We played very good ball clubs. We took series away from home, on the road, which is always a good sign," said Pena of his team's recent trip. "A 6-3 road trip is something that we need to be pleased about and we are."
Since the All-Star break Tampa's staff leads the majors with a 2.45 ERA, 197 strikeouts and a .200 opponents' batting average
"As long as our pitchers are on a roll, we have a good shot," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Hoping to continue that run tonight will be 23-year-old lefty Matt Moore, who is coming off one of his better starts this season. Moore defeated the Angels on Saturday, scattering four hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings to run his record to 7-7, while lowering his ERA to 4.01.
"Obviously I'm going to try and build on that by getting ahead," Moore said. "Try and finish hitters a little bit quicker."
He has gone 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA in his last three starts.
Moore beat Baltimore the last time he faced the club and is 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA in three games (2 starts) in this series.
Baltimore enters this set after an impressive series win over the division- leading New York Yankees. The Orioles, though, were denied the sweep in Wednesday's finale, falling 12-3.
Still and all, the Orioles are above .500 (55-50) this late in a season for the first time since they were 60-60 on Aug. 17, 2005.
Getting the call for the Orioles tonight will be righty Tommy Hunter, who is 4-6 with a 5.68 ERA. Hunter pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief on Wednesday, but is still scheduled to go tonight.
Hunter is 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in four starts against the Rays, but hasn't faced them since 2010.
Tampa Bay has won five of its nine matchups with the Orioles this season.
The Sports Network