Orioles use well-balanced attack to top Rays

Orioles use well-balanced attack to top Rays

BALTIMORE -- On the heels of a listless three-run loss on Friday, in which Orioles manager Buck Showalter did little to mask his disappointment in his team's offensive approach, Showalter was asked Saturday afternoon about the expectations over the course of the season that, at times, the bats would disappear.

"I don't ever want it to go away," Showalter responded.

And on Saturday night, it didn't. The Orioles used a well-balanced attack -- posting three multirun innings for the first time since Aug. 10 -- to complete a series-evening 8-4 win over Tampa Bay, handing Showalter his 900th Major League managerial win in the process.

The victory also snapped a three-game skid -- which was the longest stretch under Showalter -- and treated the crowd of 18,943 to an offensive show that included a hit from nearly every Orioles starter

"You want to feel like the weight of the world's not on one guy," said Showalter, who collected his 18th win since taking over on Aug. 3, passing the 2010 win totals for both of his predecessors in Baltimore -- Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel -- in the process.

"Everybody feels like it allows you to be a lot more selective when you have a mentality like that. And that's what Tampa does a lot."

Saturday, it was Baltimore's turn, as a last-place O's squad continues to play the part of spoiler, although these wins are more about building for next season than changing the opposition's plans for October.

"It's more important for us to try to play well against our division in September. In the time I've been here, that's been one of the struggles we've had," said starter Jeremy Guthrie, who turned in seven innings of two-run ball.

"It'd be nice to win four or five series this month. If we could do that, that would be a huge step in the right direction for the Orioles."

Six pitches into the game, it looked as if the Rays were the ones headed in the right direction, when John Jaso sent Guthrie's 2-2 offering over the fence. But Guthrie responded, striking out Ben Zobrist and pitching around a one-out single to Carl Crawford to keep the Rays from mounting a multirun frame. Guthrie -- who also allowed a run in the fourth -- settled down to give the O's exactly what they needed from their ace: another quality outing.

"He was a little stronger as he went on," Showalter said of Guthrie, who threw a season-high 117 pitches and tossed at least six innings for the 10th consecutive start. "You realize how important these games are to Tampa, and they're firing on all cylinders. [For Guthrie] to be able to do that this time of year is pretty impressive."

The offense was content to do the rest, as Baltimore's bats went to work right away on Rays starter James Shields, tagging him for six earned runs and chasing him from the game after 4 1/3 innings.

"There are not easy at-bats here," Orioles designated hitter Luke Scott said of the daunting rotations in the American League East.

"There's no pushovers, there's no fight to the bat rack when the fourth and fifth starter comes up in this division, because the fourth and fifth starters in this division are ones and twos a lot of times in other divisions in baseball."

"I don't think I did a very good job of getting ahead in the count," Shields said of an outing in which he issued just one walk but labored enough that the O's could afford to be selective. "I had some bad luck and didn't make the pitch when I needed to -- bases loaded with [Matt] Wieters."

And the O's catcher made him pay, delivering a crucial two-out, two-run double in the third inning to cap a three-run frame and help give way to an unusually early exit from Shields, who was unable to go five innings for just the third time in 28 starts this season.

Baltimore's scoring got started in the first courtesy of Nick Markakis' homer -- his first since Aug. 5 -- which gave the O's a lead they would never relinquish.

Rays rookie Jeremy Hellickson, who was pitching out of the bullpen for the first time in the Majors, didn't fare much better than Shields, as the O's put up another pair of runs in his five-out outing to help seal their 50th win this season.

"I think this is the kind of offensive production that everyone kind of expected going into [the season]," Guthrie said of the 15-hit attack. "And it's nice to see it happening consistently for us."

The O's offensive outbreak helped guarantee Guthrie his ninth win of the season, despite an unusual outing from closer Koji Uehara. After reliever Michael Gonzalez struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth, Uehara allowed a pair of two-out solo homers to extend the game.

But Uehara -- who entered Saturday with a 0.82 ERA in his previous 19 outings -- rebounded to retire B.J. Upton on a game-ending flyout before Tampa Bay could get within striking distance.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.