Tampa Bay’s Josh Fleming rebounded from his worst career outing for his 10th victory and the Rays smashed five home runs to push Baltimore’s losing streak to 12 games Monday with a 9-2 win over the Orioles in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Following opener Collin McHugh’s two perfect innings, the Rays turned to the lefty Fleming, who was rocked for 11 hits and 10 runs — both career highs — in 3 1/3 innings in his last start Wednesday in Boston.
Fleming (10-6) allowed six hits and two runs over 5 2/3 innings with a walk and two strikeouts.
Of the five home runs by the Rays, Brett Phillips’ in the sixth was something special.
The fleet outfielder’s drive to left-center eluded center fielder Cedric Mullins and caromed back into vacated center.
Phillips scampered around the bags for his 10th round-tripper, with his head-first slide barely beating the relay throw for an inside-the-park homer.
Brandon Lowe (3-for-4) slugged two homers with three RBIs, Kevin Kiermaier and Mike Brosseau added shots and Austin Meadows tripled in two for the Rays, who moved to 12-1 against the Orioles in 2021 and are 18-2 in their last 20 against them.
The victory lifted the American League East-leading Rays to 3 1/2 games ahead of the idle Boston Red Sox.
Baltimore’s Matt Harvey (6-12) surrendered five hits and five runs while striking out six and walking one in 4 2/3 innings — failing to go five frames for the 15th time in 24 starts.
Jorge Mateo (2-for-4) doubled and Austin Wynns singled to set Baltimore up with runners in the third. But the visitors only scored once, on Mullins’ sacrifice bunt.
In the fourth with two on, Harvey — who entered the game 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA since the All-Star break — saw Meadows rip a shot down the first-base line. It bounced oddly off the padding behind Tampa Bay’s bullpen for Meadows’ second triple.
Leading off the fifth, Kiermaier jumped on a curve from the right-hander, launching his fourth long ball to right-center. Lowe made it 4-1 by rocketing a high, center-cut sinker to center.
Joey Wendle’s RBI double to left rounded out the scoring in the three-run fifth.
After Phillips’ unconventional homer, Lowe popped a two-run shot for his team-leading 28th homer, and Brosseau notched his fifth in the seventh.
Trey Mancini doubled in Mullins in the eighth for the final margin.
–Field Level Media