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Orioles top Rays to stay one game back of Yankees

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Photo - Chris O'Meara/AP
Chris Davis hit a home run in his sixth straight game, joining Reggie Jackson as the only Orioles player to accomplish the feat.
Chris O'Meara/AP Chris Davis hit a home run in his sixth straight game, joining Reggie Jackson as the only Orioles player to accomplish the feat.
Sports,MLB,Orioles,Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Another one-run victory by the Baltimore Orioles pushed the AL East race to the final day of the season.

Chris Davis homered for the sixth straight game and the Orioles overcame a club-record 15 strikeouts by Tampa Bay pitcher James Shields to beat the Rays 1-0 Tuesday night.

Baltimore enters the final day one game behind the first-place New York Yankees, who defeated the Boston Red Sox 4-3 in 12 innings on Tuesday night.

"We're not supposed to be here. So just go out and have fun and see what happens," closer Jim Johnson said after the Orioles improved to 29-9 in one-run games.

"You have to win those games," he added. "If you're able to keep it close, you just try to find a way."

Orioles rookie Miguel Gonzalez (9-4) limited the Rays to two singles over 61Ú3 innings. The right-hander walked two and struck out seven before manager Buck Showalter turned the game over to the bullpen.

Davis joined Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson as the only Baltimore players to homer in six consecutive games, connecting off Shields (15-10) in the fourth. The Orioles managed only one other hit -- Nate McLouth's sixth-inning single -- in Shields' 19th career complete game and third this season.

"He made one mistake, and fortunately Chris was on it," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.

The Rays have lost 1-0 five times since Aug. 5 -- twice to the Orioles.

"I hung a changeup. He's a pretty good hitter. I think that was probably the farthest home run I've ever given up in my career," Shields said. "I sent the bat boy over and told him to tell him, 'Can you hit it any farther?' Just joking around a little bit. He said something like, 'I'm sorry. I'll go and try and hit it 480 feet next time.' I thought that was pretty funny."

The Orioles, guaranteed at least a wild-card spot, clinched their first playoff berth in 15 years late Sunday.

Brian Matusz replaced Gonzalez after the starter struck out Jeff Keppinger to begin the seventh. Darren O'Day worked the eighth for the Orioles, and Johnson finished the two-hitter for his major league-leading 51st save.

Gonzalez pitched seven scoreless innings in his only previous start at Tropicana Field on Aug. 5, but was not involved in the decision in a game the Orioles won 1-0 in 10 innings. He limited the Rays to two hits and four walks in that outing and was even tougher on them this time.

Evan Longoria singled leading off the second against the right-hander. B.J. Upton drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and was stranded at second when Longoria flied out and Keppinger struck out. Chris Gimenez opened the sixth with Tampa Bay's second hit, and Gonzalez walked Ben Zobrist with two outs before fanning Longoria to end the threat.

Davis homered over the center-field wall on a 1-1 changeup with two outs in the fourth. Jackson homered in six straight games for the Orioles in July 1976.

"It kind of blows my mind to even be mentioned in the same breath as Reggie, but it's more about the win than anything else," Davis said. "I'm kind of glad to be the guy that's coming through in this situation, but as long as we get the win I don't care."

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