ST. PETERBURG, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays are teams currently heading in different directions.
Kevin Gausman pitched six strong innings, Adam Jones homered and the Orioles sent the Rays to their season-worst fifth straight loss, 5-0 Monday night.
"It all feeds off the starting pitching," Jones said.
The Rays began the day tied for the second AL wild-card spot. Baltimore won for the sixth time in eight games.
"It's all about how we finish as a team," Gausman said.
Gausman (7-7) gave up five hits and struck out eight. He has permitted seven hits over 13 scoreless innings in two starts this season against Tampa Bay.
The right-hander is 4-1 in his last seven starts.
"Kevin was throwing strikes, and working with some tempo and command," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Darren O'Day, Brad Brach and Richard Bleier completed the six-hitter.
Blake Snell (0-6) went a career-high seven-plus innings. The lefty, who entered with 19 of 30 career starts lasting five or fewer innings, allowed three runs and six hits.
"Snell was tough," Showalter said.
Jones, who also doubled and singled, has an RBI in six straight games. Manny Machado drove in two runs during a three-run eighth and Jonathan Schoop drove in a run for his eighth game in a row.
Rays catcher Wilson Ramos left in the fifth after he was struck on the head by a piece of Ruben Tejada's broken bat. The team said Ramos got six staples and will be evaluated.
"He won't start tomorrow, but we're confident that he feels good," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "A little bit of a scare there. I think Wilson would have preferred to stay in the game. We just weren't able to stop the bleeding."
Jones opened the game with a double and went to third on a wild pitch, but Snell rebounded to strike out Machado and Jonathan Schoop, and retired Mark Trumbo on a popup.
Jones hit his 19th home run in the third.
Snell left in the eighth with two on and no outs. Sergio Romo, in his Rays debut, gave up a two-run single to Machado and Schoop's sacrifice fly. Schoop has 18 RBIs during his streak.
Tampa Bay loaded the bases with two outs in the third but Evan Longoria grounded out. Mallex Smith hit a leadoff triple in the fifth but was left stranded.
"We've just got to continue as this little bit of a funk goes," Cash said. "we've got to find a way to get ourselves out of it."
Quietly the Baltimore Orioles are trying to move back into the American League playoff picture. With more defensive plays like the team saw in the first inning on Monday, their odds will greatly improve.
Facing off against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first game of a three-game series, Manny Machado started what would be a key play for Baltimore.
With one out and a runner on first base, Machado scooped up an Evan Longoria grounder that was flying down the third base line. Running into foul territory the 25-year-old threw across his body to Johnathan Schoop, who made a high-reaching grab at second and delivered a perfect throw down to first. Ending the inning, the Orioles kept the Rays scoreless with only one hit in the bottom half of the first inning.
Now THAT is a double play. pic.twitter.com/zXS0nDPUZ8— MLB (@MLB) July 24, 2017
Schoop is coming off his first American League player of the week honor after an impressive stretch in seven games. Mainly the award was for his offensive numbers, but he proved to be a valuable double play partner as well.
Not only is it a huge play in the moment, but it had to be an empowering play for the psyche of starting pitcher Kevin Gausman. On the mound for the Orioles against the Rays, Gausman was struggling post All-Star break. In three games had allowed 14 earned runs, 20 hits, and six home runs.