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Bullpen dominates, Rays strike early to best O's

MLB.com @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's grand pitching experiment rolled on Saturday evening in a 5-1 win over the Orioles at Tropicana Field.

"We know we're asking these guys to do a lot," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We're asking them to get out of their comfort zones, coming in when they're used to being starters."

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay's grand pitching experiment rolled on Saturday evening in a 5-1 win over the Orioles at Tropicana Field.

"We know we're asking these guys to do a lot," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We're asking them to get out of their comfort zones, coming in when they're used to being starters."

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Ryne Stanek served as the reliever-turned-starting-pitcher du jour and the hard-throwing right-hander responded with 1 2/3 perfect innings -- including three strikeouts -- before Anthony Banda took over.

Banda, who came to the Rays in the trade that sent Steven Souza Jr. to the D-backs, added to the zeros on the scoreboard as the innings wore on. The Orioles did not get a base hit until Danny Valencia tripled to open the fifth. Banda answered the challenge by striking out Chris Davis and Joey Rickard before retiring Andrew Susac on a groundout to shortstop Daniel Robertson to end the threat.

"Still a little weird [being a starter and coming in relief]," Banda said. "But just treat it like a start, honestly. Whether you come in with runners on or a clean inning, you just have to look at it as a start and just try to go from there, and just work your stuff.

"It's a little awkward. But then again, it's baseball. You gotta come in. You gotta attack. You gotta get outs. You gotta keep your team on board and ahead. And just continue pitching."

Adding to the unorthodox manner in which the Rays are managing their pitching this season, Banda was optioned to Triple-A Durham after the game, and a corresponding move -- or fresh arm, will be in the Rays' clubhouse on Sunday.

Tampa Bay's offense got busy early against Orioles starter Andrew Cashner. Joey Wendle hit an RBI triple in the first, and Wilson Ramos added a run-scoring double to give the Rays a 2-0 lead while breaking a 13-inning scoreless streak. Rob Refsnyder then singled home a run in the second and C.J. Cron doubled home two more to push the lead to 5-0. 

Video: BAL@TB: Cron plates 2 with a double to right-center

"Impressive they bounced back [after Friday night's 2-0 loss]," Cash said. "It was a long day yesterday. We talked about it. These guys, they're pretty impressive."

The Orioles finally got on the scoreboard when Davis singled the opposite way to cut the lead to 5-1.

Banda allowed one run on three hits and a walk while striking out seven to earn his first win of the season. Chaz Roe pitched the ninth, retiring the Orioles in order.

Stanek called it "cool" to be a part of something unorthodox.

"It's something that's definitely going to maybe shake things up for a little bit because it's just different," Stanek said. "And different is not always bad. Different in this case has seemed to work, and it's worked a couple of times for us so far."

Video: BAL@TB: Stanek blows fastball by Jones

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Rays offense had been silent during Friday night's loss, so they needed something to get them ignited. Enter Wendle. After Cron laced a one-out single to right, Wendle stepped to the plate and slashed a triple down the right-field line. Wendle's triple set the tone for an offense that had not scored in 13 consecutive innings. 

Video: BAL@TB: Wendle opens scoring with an RBI triple

SOUND SMART
Stanek became the 10th starting pitcher used by the Rays this season, the most in the Major Leagues, passing the Angels, D-backs, and Marlins, who all have nine each.

HE SAID IT
"You know what, I've been called an idiot before. I can handle it." -- Cash, when asked about removing Stanek from the game when the righty had a no-hitter going

Video: BAL@TB: Cash on 5-1 win over the Orioles

UP NEXT
Sergio Romo will start for the Rays on Sunday when they wrap up a three-game set against the Orioles with a 1:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. This will be Romo's fourth start of the season under the Rays' innovative handling of their pitching. Kevin Gausman will start for the Orioles.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays