ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Manager Joe Maddon openly hoped for a carryover effect from the Tampa Bay Rays' 18-inning victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, in a game spiced with postseason implications.
Maddon seemed to get it in a 5-1 victory on Saturday at Tropicana Field, in a game played less than nine hours after Friday's marathon ended. Or it simply could have been the dominating pitching of Alex Cobb.
Tampa Bay (85-69) won for the seventh time in 10 games and fortified its hold on the top wild card spot in the American League. The Orioles (81-73) slumped to 3 1/2 games out of the second wild card spot and appeared to be a team fading from postseason contention in the final eight games of the season.
Cobb (10-3) carried a no-hitter through 4 2/3 innings, and allowed only five hits and two walks in an effort that allowed an exhausted bullpen a day of recuperation. Tampa Bay used 11 pitchers on Friday but on Saturday required only two outs from Fernando Rodney in the ninth.
"We needed it, no doubt about it," Maddon said of Cobb's deep stint. "It rights things a bit."
The free-swinging Orioles struck out 12 times against the right-hander. Though Maddon said Cobb never looked "challenged" by the Orioles, the pitcher admitted to early-game nervousness, which led to two first-inning walks.
"[I put] a little too much pressure on myself early on. I tried to make too good of pitches, tried to be too fine," Cobb said. "Once I kind of settled down a bit and realized my stuff was fine, I'll get guys out."
A lot of them. The Orioles raved about Cobb rather than citing mental and physical fatigue.
"I think that would be taking something away from Cobb," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's pitched real well."
Cobb was allowed to leave the ballpark in the seventh inning on Friday and was asleep by 11:30 p.m., he said, not learning the length and result of the game until he awoke.
Desmond Jennings gave the Rays a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning with his 14th home run of the season. Jose Molina and Yunel Escobar started the inning with walks off Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez (10-8).
Gonzalez yielded after six innings, having allowed three runs on two hits, with five costly walks. He struck out two.
Tampa Bay added two runs in the seventh to lead 5-0. Escobar's one-out triple started trouble for reliever Francisco Rodriguez and Jennings' three-base shot to the wall in left scored him.
Ben Zobrist's RBI single scored Jennings.
"He has a good look about him," Maddon said of Jennings. "Like I told him, 'You're going to be a star in this league for many years to come' and I just tried to relate to him what I thought he needed to do right now. Apparently, that's worked out today."
Cobb lost the shutout and a chance at a complete game in the ninth when left fielder David DeJesus botched Chris Davis' fly ball into a triple and Adam Jones singled him home.
"He was tough," Nate McLouth said of Cobb. "He throws a lot of breaking balls- split-fingers or changeups - and he's real effective. He was pretty much unhittable. He can, with that split-finger, get so much weak contact and he's got pitches to put you way with so you go up there kind of wanting to get him early."
NOTES: The game was played in a tidy 2 hours 51 minutes after the 6-hour, 54-minute affair on Friday. ... Jennings drove in four runs for the fourth time in his career. ... Eleven players from both teams that started in the 18-inning marathon on Friday started on Saturday, underscoring the importance of the four-game series to both clubs. A notable but understandable exception was Orioles C Matt Wieters, who caught all 18 innings on Friday night. ... The Rays recalled left-hander Jeff Beliveau for his fourth stint with the club. The reliever has yet to make an appearance. ... The Rays have held an opponent to one run 36 times this season. ... Sixteen of Rodney's 17 appearances since Aug. 13 have been scoreless. ... The Orioles snapped a 19-inning scoreless streak with the ninth-inning run.
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