ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Another one-run victory by the Baltimore Orioles pushed the AL East race to the final day of the season.
Chris Davis homered for the sixth consecutive game and the Orioles overcame a club-record 15 strikeouts by Tampa Bay pitcher James Shields to beat the Rays, 1-0, Tuesday night.
Baltimore remained one game behind the first-place New York Yankees, who rallied in the 12th inning against Boston to win, 4-3. If the Orioles win and the Yankees lose today, they’ll play a tiebreaker for the AL East division title Thursday in Baltimore.
“We’re not supposed to be here. So just go out and have fun and see what happens,” closer Jim Johnson said after the Orioles improved to 29-9 in one-run games.
“You have to win those games,” he added. “If you’re able to keep it close, you just try to find a way.”
Orioles rookie Miguel Gonzalez (9-4) limited the Rays to two singles over 6 innings. The right-hander walked two and struck out seven before manager Buck Showalter turned the game over to the bullpen.
Davis joined Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson as the only Baltimore players to homer in six consecutive games, connecting off Shields (15-10) in the fourth. The Orioles managed only one other hit – Nate McLouth’s sixth-inning single – in Shields’ 19th career complete game and third this season.
“He made one mistake, and fortunately Chris was on it,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
The Rays have lost 1-0 five times since Aug. 5 – twice to the Orioles.
“I hung a changeup. He’s a pretty good hitter. I think that was probably the farthest home run I’ve ever given up in my career,” Shields said. “I sent the bat boy over and told him to tell (Davis), ‘Can you hit it any farther?’ Just joking around a little bit. (Davis) said something like, ‘I’m sorry. I’ll go and try and hit it 480 feet next time.’ I thought that was pretty funny.”