ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex Cobb and Ubaldo Jimenez threw only one bad pitch each.
The big difference in Tampa Bay’s 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday was that there was a runner on base when Evan Longoria hit Jimenez’s pitch out for a two-run homer in the sixth inning and the Rays’ first lead of the game.
“It wasn’t all that bad of a pitch,” Longoria said. “It was one of those situations where I just felt like I could pick a location and the pitch and try and swing to it, and I got the right one.”
Jimenez, who had given up only two hits in the first five innings, had 1-0 lead when his inside fastball caught a little too much of the plate.
“I wouldn’t call it a mistake because I wanted it inside and it was inside,” Jimenez said. “Looked like he was looking for it and he just put a good swing on it.”
Longoria’s 15th home run of the season came after a walk by Mallex Smith. Steven Souza Jr. added another home run and Cobb pitched seven strong innings for the Rays. Souza’s 21st homer of the season came off reliever Darren O’Day in the seventh.
Cobb (9-6) gave up one run on four hits with six strikeouts. He has given up two runs or fewer in seven of his last nine starts.
Jonathan Schoop’s home run off Cobb had given the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
“It was a horrible pitch, right down the middle,” Cobb said. “So my thought was missed pitch, home run, turn the page.”
It was the team-leading 22nd home run for Schoop, who has driven in runs in nine of his last 10 games.
Jimenez (4-7), who lasted a total of 5 2/3 innings in his first two starts against Tampa Bay this season, gave up two runs on three hits in six innings.
“He was good, real good facing one of best pitchers in the league,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “He was almost as good as Cobb was.”
Longoria had three of the Rays’ eight hits, including an eighth-inning single while the Rays were tacking on a couple of runs against Baltimore reliever Zach Britton.
The Rays view their upcoming eight-game trip to New York and Houston as a make-or-break point in their season. The four-game weekend series against the Yankees will be “the biggest series of the season, hands down,” Cobb said. “This will be pretty indicative of what kind of team we are,” Longoria said, “and we’ll definitely get a feel for how we play under pressure.”
ORIOLES: 1B Chris Davis was back in the lineup after missing two games with a stomach virus. “He feels remarkably better,” Showalter said. “He was pretty sick.”
RAYS: RHP Jake Odorizzi was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain but hopes to miss only two starts. “It’s been something I’ve been dealing with, managing, pitching through all season,” Odorizzi said. “Let it cool down.” … OF Kevin Kiermaier (fractured hip) will begin a rehab assignment at Class-A Charlotte on Thursday.
ORIOLES: RHP Chris Tillman (1-5) and Texas RHP Andrew Cashner (5-8) are Friday night’s starters.
RAYS: RHP Chris Archer (7-6) looks to get Tampa Bay off to a good start to its road trip against LHP CC Sabathia (9-3) and the New York Yankees on Thursday night. “We’re going to display what type team we really are,” Archer said. “I think with how we’ve been playing this year, we’re ready.”
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