BALTIMORE (AP) -The first doubleheader sweep in the history of the Tampa Bay franchise moved the Rays two steps closer to
a far more important milestone: their first AL East crown.
Tampa Ray reduced its magic number to win the division title to two Tuesday night, scoring six runs in the eighth inning to
rally past the
7-5 for an unprecedented sweep.
pitched seven effective innings to lead the Rays to a 5-2 victory in the opener.
The sweep, combined with Boston's 5-4 win over the
, left the Rays three games ahead of the
in the AL East. Any combination of Rays wins and Boston losses totaling two will give Tampa Bay its first division title.
''We can taste it a little more tonight,'' reliever J.P. Howell said. ''We need a little help from Boston, but we can't rely
on them. Let's just keep this thing moving.
''And just because if we win this division doesn't mean we can stop. We have to go all the way to Oct. 30 in my book.''
In the nightcap, Tampa Bay trailed 5-1 before
homered and pinch hitter
singled in two runs off
(1-3) in a six-run eighth inning. The Rays had five hits through the first seven innings and six in the eighth, including
a triple by
and an RBI single by pinch hitter
''That was quite a comeback right there,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''The whole team contributed.''
Jeff Neimann (1-2) pitched 2 1-3 innings and Howell got five outs for his third save.
The victory enabled the Rays (95-62) to break the record held by the 1991
for most wins by a team that owned the worst record in the majors one year earlier.
Baltimore has lost eight straight and 27 of 33. The Orioles have also dropped 11 in a row to Tampa Bay and are 3-14 overall
against the Rays.
In the second game, Maddon did not start regulars Bartlett,
, B.J. Upton, Navarro and
made his first major league start. He gave up three runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings.
And the Rays still got their first-ever doubleheader sweep.
''Really?'' Maddon said.
''If we're going to be here as long as we've been here,''
said afterward, ''we sure better sweep.''
It was the 14th doubleheader in Tampa Bay history; the Rays had split seven and been swept six times.
, who was also making his first start in the majors, allowed three runs in 7 2-3 innings. But his effort was ruined by Walker,
who allowed four runs in the eighth and failed to get an out.
''I wish I could change it, but obviously I can't,'' Walker said. ''So I've got to live with that. That's baseball. I've got
to forget about it when I walk out that door, but that's a game we should've won and it's a hard one to swallow.''
Orioles manager Dave Trembley wanted to bring in
, but the reliever felt a pain in his side while warming up and took a seat in the bullpen.
''So we had to get Walker going,'' Trembley said.
In the first game, Shields (14-8) tied the club record for wins, set in 1998 by
. The right-hander gave up eight hits, struck out eight and walked one in his career-high 32nd start of the season.
worked the ninth for his 13th save, the second in two games. Tampa Bay's regular closer,
, was back in Tampa Bay getting epidural shots on his back.
went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, and Bartlett also had three hits for the Rays.
hit a two-run homer for the Orioles.
(9-10) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings but lost his third straight start.
After Montanez gave Baltimore a 2-0 lead in the second inning, the Rays pulled even in the fifth. Navarro hit a leadoff double
and Bartlett singled before Olson threw wildly to first on a pickoff move, allowing Navarro to score. Perez followed with
an RBI double.
''I think that was definitely a big turning point in the game,'' Olson said of his errant toss. ''I felt like after that happened,
lose that lead, pretty soon it's a tie ballgame.''
Tampa Bay took the lead in the sixth when Navarro singled and scored on a double by Bartlett, and Pena got his 101st RBI with
a two-out single off
in the seventh.
In the eighth, Perez got credit for an RBI single when his attempted squeeze bunt popped out of the glove of pitcher
, who attempted to make a diving grab.
Notes: The Rays announced that they have sold out the first two home games of the AL division series. Tampa Bay ranks 12th
among 14 AL teams in home attendance, averaging 22,370. ... Baltimore's
got his first major league hit in the opener, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. ... Talbot was the ninth
different starter used by Tampa Bay this season, all of them under 26 years old.