ST. PETERSBURG -- In a power-packed Orioles lineup, it's easy for Jonathan Schoop to get lost. But he shouldn't.Schoop, who ended the first half on a torrid offensive stretch, delivered his 15th homer on Friday to lift first-place Baltimore to a 4-3 series-opening win over Tampa Bay."It's just fun to
ST. PETERSBURG -- In a power-packed Orioles lineup, it's easy for Jonathan Schoop to get lost. But he shouldn't.
Schoop, who ended the first half on a torrid offensive stretch, delivered his 15th homer on Friday to lift first-place Baltimore to a 4-3 series-opening win over Tampa Bay.
"It's just fun to watch a young player," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Schoop, who is batting .303. "You see the game's starting to slow down for him, and he's letting the game come to him. He's always in fire mode. Jon, he enjoys contributing to a win, and it's nothing individual. Jon's a good kid, and he likes winning, he likes contributing."
Schoop was joined by teammate Pedro Álvarez, who drove in two runs and homered in the third inning off Rays starter Chris Archer as the O's maintained a two-game lead in the American League East.
"At the end of the day," Archer said, "if I could have one pitch back, it would be the second pitch I threw to Schoop."
The Rays, who have a seven-game losing streak, have now lost 23 of their last 26 games. Archer went 7 1/3 innings, dueling Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo, who went only five innings. Rays catcher Luke Maile had two hits and drove in a run in his season debut.
"You do feel for [Archer], because you want these guys to build off some success," manager Kevin Cash said. "I think Archer can pull plenty of positives from the outing. You take away a pitch here or there, and he had a really good outing."
Orioles All-Star closer Zach Britton stranded runners on the corners and picked up his 28th save. He remains perfect in save situations on the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Schoop stays hot: The Orioles second baseman has 10 game-winning RBIs, which ranks second on the team, and has hit 10 homers in his last 54 games. Schoop also stretched his hitting streak to 10 games with the leadoff eighth-inning blast off Archer.
"[I] just try to keep a routine and try to swing at more strikes," Schoop said. "Sometimes, it doesn't come, I swing at everything, but I want to improve. I want to be better than I was last year." More >
I am your father: Maile made his first start of the season for Tampa Bay after getting recalled from Triple-A Durham. He had two hits, including an RBI single. The Rays' catching corps this season has struggled, but Maile continued the hot hitting that earned him the callup in the first place.
Last chance: The Rays had the potential game-tying run at third with one out in ninth inning against Britton, whose ERA is 0.70. After an intentional walk to Evan Longoria, Cash decided to stick with the lefty-lefty matchup in Logan Morrison, who struck out. Then Steven Souza Jr. struck out to end the game.
"I had confidence in [Morrison] there to come through," Cash said.
YoGa rebounds: Despite a 29-pitch first inning, Gallardo was able to go five and keep the O's in the game. The righty, who walked four and allowed three runs and eight hits, retired seven of his last eight.
"I think throwing close to 60 pitches through the first two innings is never good, especially one of those ABs to Morrison," Gallardo said. "He fouled off a lot of pitches that prolonged the at-bat and fouled off some pretty good pitches. But I think after those first couple innings, those last couple innings it was just more aggressive and pitching to contact instead of walking guys and trying to be too fine like I was doing in the first couple innings."
"I felt great. But it didn't matter how I felt. I didn't get the job done." -- Archer, on going back out to pitch the eighth inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Rays' 3-23 stretch is the worst by an AL team in 13 years. The last team to do it was the 2003 Detroit Tigers, who finished the year 43-119.
Orioles: Showalter gave his No. 1 starter an extra day of rest coming out of the break. Chris Tillman returns to the mound for Saturday's 6:10 p.m. ET game after beating the Angels last Sunday. He threw seven innings of one-run ball in that start. .
Rays:Matt Moore has been the Rays' best starter over the past month and a half. He's gone at least six innings in each of his past seven starts and has lowered his ERA from 5.56 to 4.46 during that span. He'll have a chance to lower it even more at home against the Orioles on Saturday.
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Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.
Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.