Losing streak hits four games after loss
Kazmir goes seven strong, but Rays muster only two hits
BALTIMORE -- Just when you thought it was the pitching, this happens.
After a weekend that saw Devil Rays pitching get pounded by the Yankees, Tampa Bay got a quality pitching performance from Scott Kazmir, only the Rays' bats went silent, resulting in a 3-0 Orioles win Tuesday night in front of a crowd of 42,579 at Camden Yards.
Of course, Daniel Cabrera had a lot to do with the Rays' bats going silent. The Baltimore starter held the Tampa Bay hitless for the first three innings before B.J. Upton singled to center field. Upton got to Baltimore again in the ninth when he doubled for the Rays second and final hit.
Cabrera pitched seven innings, allowing no runs and just one hit.
"He just threw strikes. He pitched good. He wasn't like all wild out of the zone and all like that," Carl Crawford said. "He's either on or he's off. Tonight, he was on."
Cabrera throws in the mid-90s, but often his strikeouts are exceeded by his walk totals.
Cabrera "was throwing the ball down," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He wasn't all over the place, like I'd seen him in the past. He was pounding the zone down. And he wasn't throwing a lot of breaking balls, but as the game began to progress, he was bringing it into play.
"He was actually throwing breaking balls for strikes. When he was behind in the count, he even threw a full-count curveball to Carlos [Pena] for a strike. He's dramatically improved on their side, because we've been swinging the bats relatively well, so I thought he pitched very well for them."
Cabrera improved to 5-0 with a 3.11 ERA in nine career starts against the Rays. Orioles manager Dave Trembley offered insight as to what Cabrera did differently on Tuesday night.
"What Cabrera did tonight, I'd like to say he took his foot off the pedal," Trembley said. "I think he's been trying to force it a little bit, and when those situations have come up, he tries to speed the game up and maybe throw harder.
"And when he does that he gets in trouble. Tonight, he showed very good poise. When he did get a couple of guys on or he walked a guy, he stepped off. He took his time in between pitches."
Whatever Cabrera could not provide, the O's infielders did, contributing to four double plays.
"We hit some balls hard in situations," Maddon said. "It was just one of those unfortunate things in a game."
Kazmir escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, when he got Brian Roberts to pop out to right field for the second out, before striking out Corey Patterson to end the threat.
But Kazmir's luck did not hold in the sixth, when Nick Markakis singled to lead off the inning and moved to second on Ramon Hernandez's groundout. Former Rays player Aubrey Huff then laced a single into left field to put the Orioles up, 1-0.
Kazmir handled the Orioles through six innings before walking in a run with two outs in the seventh to finish his night's work; the three walks he allowed in the seventh were his only walks of the game.
Juan Salas relieved Kazmir and walked the first batter he faced to make it 3-0, O's.
"Two really good outings in a row [for Kazmir] and that's what we've been waiting for," Maddon said. "Really good command of his fastball, easy delivery, the ball was where he wanted it to be all night until the very end. ... He had a great night, and that's really good to see for us."
Kazmir recently went back to pitching from the third-base side of the rubber, and everything suddenly clicked into place for him. He brought consecutive quality starts into Tuesday night's outing and added another against the Orioles.
"[I] felt like I picked up where I left off," Kazmir said.
The Rays' losing streak moved to four games. They are 1-4 on the current road trip and 5-21 since June 25. In addition, they have lost 12 of their last 14 games against the O's.
"It's just so frustrating," Kazmir said. "We're a little inconsistent, to say the least."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.