Orioles beat Rays 5-1 thanks to 4-run 5th inning

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BALTIMORE — The bullpen has been perhaps the biggest part of Baltimore’s climb this season.

When manager Brandon Hyde lifted starter Austin Voth after three innings against Tampa Bay, those relievers went to work.

“Tonight, they were so good,” Hyde said. “They put six zeros up. It’s absolutely outstanding.”

Ryan Mountcastle hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in a four-run fifth that sent the Orioles to a 5-1 victory over the Rays. Voth and five Baltimore relievers kept Tampa Bay’s offense from delivering the big hit. The Rays left 10 men on base, including six in the first three innings.

“Early on, we got some guys on base, and when you do that, you’ve got to find ways to make contact, get the ball to the outfield, score some runs,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We did not, and then their bullpen kind of got on a run where there wasn’t many opportunities after the first couple innings.”

Brandon Lowe homered leading off the third for Tampa Bay, but Corey Kluber (6-6) allowed four earned runs in five innings. Nick Vespi (3-0) struck out four in 1 2/3 innings of relief to earn the win. Vespi was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game.

“That was awesome,” Hyde said. “Just gets here today, bridges the gap to some back-end bullpen guys there.”

Ryan McKenna led off the Baltimore fifth with a single, and Cedric Mullins added a bunt single one out later. Adley Rutschman was hit by a pitch, loading the bases, and Mountcastle’s hit put the Orioles up 3-1.

Anthony Santander followed with a grounder to first, and Ji-Man Choi‘s throw to second hit Mountcastle. A run came home on that play, and Austin Hays made it 5-1 with a sacrifice fly.

Voth pitched around leadoff walks in the first and second. The Rays had the bases loaded with one out in the second, but Voth was able to throw home for a force on a comebacker by Brett Phillips, and Yandy Diaz hit a flyball to end the threat.

“I felt like I battled today,” Voth said. “Just didn’t have my best stuff. I was behind in a lot of counts. That’s kind of what really hurt me, but definitely found a way to get out of some of those innings.”

Rutschman, the Baltimore rookie catcher, was taken down by a sliding Luke Raley on the force play at the plate. That drew the ire of the crowd, but Hyde said afterward he thought it was a clean play by the Tampa Bay runner.

The Orioles loaded the bases in the second with nobody out. Rougned Odor hit a sacrifice fly, but the next two batters were retired on foul pops.

Voth allowed a run and four hits.

WINNING MONTH

The Orioles are 13-6 in July, assuring them a second consecutive winning month. Prior to this June, when they went 14-12, they hadn’t had a winning month since August 2017.

SNAPPED

Choi was charged with an error on his poor throw in the fifth, snapping a 10-game errorless streak for the Rays. That tied a club record last reached in 2011.

“I’m not assuming that we’re going to get a double play, but an out would have been really beneficial in that situation,” Cash said.

TURNAROUND

Tampa Bay went 18-1 against the Orioles in 2021, but Baltimore has won six of 13 meetings this year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: Tampa Bay has ruled OF Kevin Kiermaier (left hip) and C Mike Zunino (left shoulder) out for the season.

Orioles: SS Jonathan Arauz jammed a finger sliding into second in the eighth. … 1B Trey Mancini, the subject of trade speculation, was given the night off. He’s in an 0-for-22 slump.

UP NEXT

Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan (10-3) makes his first appearance since starting the All-Star Game last week. He faces Baltimore’s Spenser Watkins (3-1) on Tuesday night.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.