ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays’ latest bullpen day had a rocky beginning and a strong finish.
Relievers Vidal Nuno and Austin Pruitt combined to throw 8 2/3 scoreless innings, Brad Miller had three RBIs and the Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-3 on Sunday.
Nuno (1-0) and Pruitt followed Sergio Romo, who was charged with three runs in one-third of an inning as the starter as the Rays went with an unconventional pitching lineup for the third consecutive day.
“We got ourselves in a little hole there but I thought we chipped away at it nice,” Miller said. “We exploded there, and then Pruitt and Nuno shut it down the rest of the way.”
Nuno worked out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the third and gave up three hits and four walks over three scoreless innings.
Pruitt entered in the fourth and limited Baltimore to three hits over the final 5 2/3 innings to get his first save.
“I had one (save) last year that was three innings, but 5 2/3 innings, that’s lengthy,” Pruitt said.
Since the save became an official stat in 1969, only three others have gone at least 5 2/3 innings to get one: Texas’ Joaquin Benoit (seven innings, Sept. 3, 2002), Horacio Pena of the Rangers (six innings, April 23, 1972) and Oakland’s Bob Locker (5 2/3 innings, August 12, 1970).
Miller’s two-run double in third off Kevin Gausman (3-4) tied it at 3. The Rays’ advantage grew to 7-3 when Joey Wendle hit an RBI single, Mallex Smith had a run-scoring grounder and Christian Arroyo knocked in a pair with a single.
Miller hit a solo homer in the first. His three RBIs matched his total from the previous 15 games.
“The way we have a lot of guys clicking right now, it’s just kind of fun,” Miller said.
Gausman allowed seven runs, six hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings for last-place Baltimore, which dropped two of three at Tampa Bay to finish a season-long 11-game trip at 4-7.
“We certainly helped them with a lack of command,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “(Gausman) wasn’t the only one. All our guys had trouble with lack of command today.”
Nuno came in with the bases loaded and one out in the first and gave up a sacrifice fly to Chris Davis. Chance Sisco walked with the bases loaded before Craig Gentry made it 3-0 on a run-scoring bunt single.
“It’s very frustrating,” Davis said. “Anytime we score runs early in the game, we expect to win.”
Tampa Bay planned to begin the season by using a four-man rotation and relying on the bullpen on the fifth day. But Nathan Eovaldi got hurt at the end of spring training and Jake Faria went on the disabled list on Wednesday with a strained left oblique.
Romo also started Friday’s series opener and four of the Rays’ last eight games over a nine-day stretch. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Romo is the first pitcher with four starts in nine days since Claude Osteen of the Chicago White Sox in 1975.
Carlos Gomez had a solo homer in the seventh for the Rays.
Orioles: CF Adam Jones got the day off after playing two days on turf. … OF Mark Trumbo (sore knee) is expected to start Monday against the Nationals.
Rays: 3B Matt Duffy was rested.
Tampa Bay recalled RHP Jaime Schultz from Triple-A Durham, taking the spot of LHP Anthony Banda, who was optioned to Durham after going 6 1/3 relief innings in getting the win Saturday.
Orioles: RHP Alex Cobb (1-6, 7.32 ERA) and Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez (5-2, 2.38) square off Monday in the opener of a three-game series.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (3-3, 4.68) will face Athletics RHP Trevor Cahill (1-2, 2.75) Monday in the first of four at Oakland. Eovaldi (right elbow surgery) had his first scheduled start since August 10, 2016, with the New York Yankees, pushed back to Wednesday so LHP Blake Snell can follow Archer in the rotation.
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