ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Randy Arozarena hit his first career grand slam, Tampa Bay relievers threw seven no-hit innings, and the Rays handed the Baltimore Orioles their 15th consecutive road loss, 7-1 on Sunday.
The Orioles extended a dubious team record, the worst road skid since the club moved from St. Louis to Baltimore in 1954.
Arozarena made it 7-1 when he stopped a personal 19-game home run drought on his drive to center off César Valdez in the seventh.
“I’m very happy, especially for me to hit that ball out and I know for the team,” Arozarena said through an interpreter. “We’re out here trying to get the wins, and luckily we are. We’re a good team. We’re a first-place team now.”
After opener Michael Wacha allowed one run and two hits, Josh Fleming (6-4) entered in the third and walked one — with two outs in the third that was the last Orioles’ baserunner — over four innings.
“That’s us, pitching and trying to prevent runs,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “That is what puts us in a position to where we have a chance to be special. Right now we’re getting a lot of big hits.”
Matt Wisler, Andrew Kittredge and Jeffrey Springs all worked one perfect inning.
“We’re the best bullpen, I think, in the league, ” Fleming said. “They’re going to get it done.”
Tampa Bay relievers have an AL-best 3.05 ERA, including 1.59 over the past 17 games. Overall, the Rays have held opponents to three or fewer runs 39 times.
Taylor Walls drove in two runs as Tampa Bay, with the majors’ best record at 42-24, improved to 23-5 since May 13.
“Wins help. I think this group came into spring training feeling pretty confident about themselves and we want it to continue,” Cash said.
Walls had a two-run single against Bruce Zimmermann (4-4) during the fourth as Tampa Bay took a 3-1 lead. The rookie, who started the game with one hit in his previous 15 at-bats, singled and stole second in the third before scoring on Yandy Díaz’s single.
“It should be a very fun series,” Cash said. “They’re a talented team. You kind of saw it coming over the last couple seasons. You saw the youth that they had, and now those guys have evolved. They added some big pieces. Their pitching has been tremendous.”
Orioles 3B Maikel Franco was hitless in three at-bats and is 0 for 24 against the Rays this season. DH Ryan Mountcastle and CF Austin Hays are both 2 for 22 in the season series.
Orioles: CF Cedric Mullins had a scheduled day off. … 1B Trey Mancini was hit around the right elbow by a pitch in the first but stayed in the game.
Rays: 1B Ji-Man Choi (strained left groin) could return on Monday.
Orioles: Manager Brandon Hyde said a pitcher will probably be called up from Triple-A Norfolk to start Monday night’s game at Cleveland. The Indians are going with RHP J.C. Mejía (1-1).
Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (5-2) and White Sox RHP Lance Lynn (7-1) are Monday night’s starters.
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