ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Brad Bergesen was told by his teammates to just have some fun, and the result was his best performance of the season.
Bergesen tossed a four-hitter for his first major league shutout, Jake Fox hit a two-run homer and the Baltimore Orioles beat the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays 6-0 on Saturday.
“To be able to shut them out in their building, it’s pretty impressive on Brad’s part,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Bergesen (1-4) picked up his first victory since last Sept. 21 at Boston. The right-hander entered 0-5 with a 9.13 ERA in five career starts against Tampa Bay.
“Let’s just go out and have a good time, and you saw it,” said Fox, who caught Bergesen. “He pitched relaxed. He was throwing the ball well. He was hitting spots. You could tell on his face he was having fun today.”
Baltimore took a 4-0 lead when Fox hit a two-run shot in the sixth off Wade Davis (4-3).
Mark Reynolds also homered for Baltimore, which improved to 18-20 this year. The Orioles didn’t reach 18 victories last season until June 15, when their record was 18-47.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Fox said.
The Rays were held hitless after Sam Fuld’s one-out single during the third. Bergesen retired 20 of his final 22 batters.
“It’s a funny game,” Bergesen said. “It’s just small, small adjustments. I’m throwing strikes, but my misses are missing in the zone. So today I really wanted to focus on making my pitches. If I was going to miss, I was going to miss off the plate or down.”
Baltimore recorded consecutive complete games — Jeremy Guthrie went the distance in Friday night’s 3-0 loss to the Rays — for the first time since Sidney Ponson and Rodrigo Lopez did so July 10 and 11, 2003, respectively Tampa Bay had runners on first and third with one out in the first, but Bergesen got out of trouble by getting a double-play grounder from Evan Longoria. The Rays had a runner reach third in each of the first three innings, but failed to capitalize.
“It just didn’t work out for us,” Rays center fielder B.J. Upton said.
Reynolds made it 2-0 with a solo homer in the fifth, but Baltimore missed out on a chance for a big inning when Luke Scott lined out to right with the bases loaded and two outs.
Vladimir Guerrero put Baltimore up 1-0 on a first-inning RBI double. After Adam Jones hit a run-scoring single in the seventh, Derrek Lee extended the Orioles’ advantage to 6-0 when he drove in a run with a double one inning later.
Davis gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander had gone 4-0 over his previous five starts, however it was the third straight outing that he has surpassed 100 pitches in six innings or less.
“He threw 106 pitches today, and that’s got to go away,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Overall, he’s just coming off some pitches. The results haven’t been horrible to this point, but it’s just his fastball command is the issue to me. We’ve got to get him more pitch efficient and better fastball command.”
Baltimore leadoff hitter Brian Roberts, mired in a 2-for-35 slide, had two hits in five at-bats. Showalter hasn’t considered taking Roberts out of the top spot, saying before the game that the second baseman is the best option and will continue to hit there.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)