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Rays 9, Orioles 2: Offense on point

The Rays gave Josh Fleming run support while he cruised through 5.2 solid innings.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays are home to welcome the Baltimore Orioles after dropping the series in Minnesota. Collin McHugh serves as the opener tonight against Matt Harvey and the O’s.

McHugh’s first inning was effortless, retiring the O’s on only eight pitches. On the others side, Harvey worked a 10-pitch inning in the bottom of the first to set the Rays down after a leadoff hit-by-pitch.

The second inning was another 1-2-3 inning for McHugh, this time with his first strikeout of the game. Harvey beat that with a two-strikeout 1-2-3 inning.

McHugh’s job was complete after two innings of work, he didn’t allow a hit before handing the ball over to Josh Fleming. Fleming allowed a leadoff double to Jorge Mateo and Austin Wynns moved Mateo up to third with a single. Cedric Mullins dropped a sacrifice bunt to plate Baltimore’s first run, but that would be the only O’s run to cross the plate in the inning.

Harvey set the Rays down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the third while recording his fourth and fifth strikeouts of the night. Fleming responded with a 1-2-3 inning of his own in the top of the fourth.

Ji-Man Choi worked a leadoff walk and moved up to second after Manuel Margot hit an infield single. Austin Meadows brought both of those guys home with a triple to right, making it 2-1 Rays.

The runs continued in the bottom of the fifth. Kevin Kiermaier hit a leadoff home run to make it 3-1 and after an out was recorded, Brandon Lowe hit one to make it 4-1.

After Lowe’s home run, Ji-Man Choi hit a single which prompted a mound visit. After Manuel Margot lined out, Paul Fry entered the game for the O’s to replace Matt Harvey. Austin Meadows drew a two-out walk to welcome Fry, while Joey Wendle plated Choi with a double to left, making it 5-1 Rays.

Fleming continued to look good, getting around a leadoff single to work a scoreless sixth inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, Brett Phillips brought the fireworks, legging out an inside-the-park home run on a ball that bounced off the wall in left-center field.

The runs didn’t stop there, as Francisco Mejia singled with one out and Brandon Lowe hit his second home run of the game to make it 8-1.

Paul Fry was taken out after walking Ji-Man Choi, and Cole Sulser was brought in to get Baltimore out of the sixth. Fleming hit a batter and allowed a single, but didn’t allow a run in the top of the seventh to keep this game moving along. Fernando Abad entered the game in the bottom of the seventh to pitch for the Orioles.

Recently-recalled Mike Brosseau welcomed Abad with a one-out home run to center field, extending the lead to 9-1. Brosseau was the last player in the lineup without a hit on the night, so his home run marked a hit for every player.

Fleming stayed in to work the top of the eighth but allowed Baltimore’s second run of the game after Cedric Mullins singled and Trey Mancini plated him with a double. After walking Austin Hays, Fleming’s day was done. Fleming allowed two runs on six hits in 5.2 innings of work. He walked one, struck out two, and threw 101 pitches. Louis Head took the mound and struck out DJ Stewart to end the inning.

The offense was quiet in the bottom of the eighth, so it was up to Louis Head to close this one out. After a leadoff walk and a single, Austin Wynns grounded into a double play and Richie Martin struck out to end the game.

The Rays started the homestand with a 9-2 win over a struggling Baltimore team. The offense brought the hits while the pitching staff did a great job in allowing only two runs. Drew Rasmussen will be taking the mound for the Rays tomorrow night against John Means and the O’s with first pitch scheduled for 7:10pm inside of Tropicana Field.