ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Gunnar Henderson homered and drove in three runs, Grayson Rodriguez pitched eight outstanding innings and the Baltimore Orioles secured a potentially crucial tiebreaker in the AL East with an 8-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.
After losing the first two of this four-game set, the Orioles (92-56) moved a game ahead of second-place Tampa Bay (92-58) and clinched the season series against the Rays. That means if the teams finish tied for first in the division, Baltimore would win.
Rodriguez (6-4) has been sharp since returning from the minors in mid-July, looking like the highly touted prospect he was at the beginning of the season. He allowed five hits in a career-high eight innings, striking out seven without a walk.
Tyler Glasnow (9-6) yielded six runs and eight hits in four innings. It was his shortest outing of the season and the second time in three starts against the Orioles he failed to complete five innings.
Henderson set the tone right away. The rookie infielder led off the bottom of the first with a first-pitch single to center field and eventually scored on Ryan O'Hearn's single to left. After Adam Frazier's RBI single with two outs in the second, Henderson swung at the first pitch again and hit his 27th homer, a two-run shot to right-center.
Henderson added an RBI single in the fourth to make it 5-0, and Adley Rutschman followed with a run-scoring single of his own. Cedric Mullins and Ramón Urías hit RBI singles in the fifth.
The Orioles extended their streak to 87 consecutive series of at least two decisions without being swept. They also snapped a four-game skid that equaled their season high.
Tampa Bay put INF Taylor Walls on the paternity list and selected the contract of INF Tristan Gray from Triple-A Durham. The Rays recalled INF Greg Jones (right hamstring strain) from Durham and put him on the 60-day injured list.
The 27-year-old Gray made his big league debut when he took over at first base in the sixth. He popped out in the eighth.
The Orioles recalled RHP Mike Baumann from Triple-A Norfolk and optioned RHP Bryan Baker to Norfolk. Baumann pitched the ninth.
Baltimore sends Dean Kremer (12-5) to the mound Sunday against Zack Littell (3-6) in the series finale.