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Johnson, Duncan homer as Rays defeat Orioles

Associated Press

4/17/2013 10:24:14 PM

BALTIMORE -- For the first time in a week, the Tampa Bay Rays celebrated a victory.

What made it even sweeter was that they scored six runs and pounded out 11 hits, which amounted to a slugfest for an offence that has struggled for much of the season.

Kelly Johnson and Shelley Duncan homered, James Loney had three RBIs and the Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 Wednesday night to snap a four-game skid.

The six runs were the most the Rays scored in a game since a 6-0 win over Cleveland on April 6. Following that victory, Tampa Bay lost seven of eight before turning it around against the Orioles.

"We have guys with many abilities within our lineup," manager Joe Maddon said. "What I liked was the swarming offence."

After going 1 for 34 with runners in scoring position in their previous five games, the Rays went 4 for 11 in those situations, including a two-run double in the fourth by Loney that put Tampa Bay ahead for good.

Loney went 3 for 3 to raise his batting average from .167 to .242. Johnson (2 for 5) went from .200 to .229, and Duncan got two hits to boost his average 44 points to .258.

"We have not hit the ball well," Maddon acknowledged. "As we do that, you will see the wins pile up."

The Rays hadn't won since the previous Wednesday, at Texas. Maddon kept insisting it would turn around, and his players bought into it.

"It's early in the year, but this manager deserves a lot of credit for the attitude we show every day," Duncan said.

Maddon was ejected in the fifth inning by umpire Brian Knight, who called Johnson out on a stolen base attempt. Maddon argued that Johnson beat the tag.

Matt Moore (3-0) gave up two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. Although his streak of scoreless starts ended at two, the left-hander has accounted for three of the Rays' five wins this season.

"Matty was very good tonight," Maddon said. "I saw most of it from inside, but he had good command. He had nice rhythm throughout the game. We had a couple home runs and did some good things for Matt."

Adam Jones homered, but he was the only Oriole to enjoy success against Moore.

"He was good. I mean, he's not a prospect no more," Jones said. "They needed a big start out of him, and they got it. They swung the bats better than they have in the previous four or five games. They came out and hit some balls. They beat us tonight, pretty pure and simple."

Baltimore starter Chris Tillman (0-1) allowed four runs and six hits in four innings to fall to 1-4 against the Rays.

Johnson put the Rays up 1-0 with a first-inning shot into the right-field seats, his second homer in two games. In the bottom half, Moore struck out Chris Davis with two outs and runners on the corners.

Duncan connected in the second for a 2-0 lead. Both his home runs this season have come against Baltimore.

Jones tied it with a two-run homer in the third. The drive was initially called a double, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter insisted the ball went over the wall and bounced back into play. The umpires adjourned to watch a replay before confirming Showalter's assessment.

Tampa Bay got a pair of clutch hits in the fourth. After Evan Longoria led off with a double and Duncan looped a one-out single to centre. As the throw from Jones came home, Duncan continued to second base. Loney followed with a sinking liner that got by Jones, allowing two runs to score.

In the sixth, Yunel Escobar hit a two-out RBI single for a 5-2 lead. The hit ended a 1-for-28 skid and was Escobar's first hit with a runner in scoring position in 15 tries this season.

"Yunel finally gets something to fall in," Maddon said.

Escobar was dropped to the No. 9 spot in the lineup, but Maddon insisted it had nothing to do with his .089 batting average. The manager said before the game that Escobar was "just a couple hits" from breaking the slump and "can do a lot of things" at the bottom of the order.

Loney added an RBI single in the eighth.

NOTES: Rays OF-DH Luke Scott (right calf strain) expressed hope of starting his rehab assignment this weekend, but Maddon said Scott is not that close to being ready. ... Cy Young Award winner David Price (0-1, 5.82 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season Wednesday night for Tampa Bay in the series finale. The Rays were winless in his previous three starts. Miguel Gonzalez (1-1, 2.82) will start for Baltimore. ... Maddon has been ejected a franchise-record 28 times. ... Nolan Reimold went 0 for 4 as the Orioles' designated hitter. Baltimore DHs are 3 for 47 (.064) this season.