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Orioles-Rays Preview

Sep 19, 2015 - 4:02 AM The Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays are running out of time for a playoff push.

Mikie Mahtook is giving the Rays a glimmer of hope.

After tying the franchise record for hits, Mahtook will try to continue giving the Rays a lift Saturday night against the Baltimore Orioles.

With 15 games left, Tampa Bay (71-76) is 5 1/2 behind Houston for the AL's second wild-card spot, while Baltimore (72-75) is 4 1/2 back.

Losing 10 of their last 15 has severely damaged the Rays' chances, but they're hoping Friday's 8-6 win over Baltimore could be the start of a turnaround.

Mahtook is providing a spark, hitting .417 in 14 games since being recalled from Triple-A Durham on Sept. 1. He had his best performance yet Friday, going 5 for 5 to become the eighth player - and first rookie - in franchise history with five hits, including a pair of doubles.

He's 8 for 12 in the past three games, giving him a .441 average with nine runs over his last 11 games.

"Obviously you want to focus on the now and what you can do to help the team," Mahtook said. "My goal is to make this team next year out of camp and not ever have to go back to Triple-A. Hopefully my progress and results are helping out now."

Erasmo Ramirez (10-5, 3.75 ERA) is coming off a superb outing, taking a no-hitter into the eighth before he left with two outs in his longest outing of the year. The right-hander didn't allow a run, but the bullpen wasted the effort in a 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Monday.

He was 0-1 with a 6.20 ERA over his previous four starts.

"Maybe the difference was about how I attacked the hitters, mix the pitches," Ramirez told MLB's official website. "I just used fastball-changeup the whole time."

Ramirez has a 1.84 ERA in his last seven home starts. He's been backed by two runs or fewer in each of the past six outings there, going 1-1 with a 0.95 ERA in the last three.

He's 1-1 with a 4.42 ERA in three starts against the Orioles this season.

Baltimore turns to Wei-Yin Chen (9-7, 3.44), who's trying to build on his performance from Sunday's 8-2 win over Kansas City. The left-hander yielded two runs in seven innings after surrendering 10 in 9 2-3 of his previous two, losing his only decision - 6-3 to Tampa Bay on Aug. 31.

He was tagged for five runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings of that matchup.

"During the past two starts, maybe I was trying too hard, maybe I was kind of overthinking and I couldn't stay calm in the game," Chen said through his interpreter. "So I was just focusing on my pitching, and hoped that I can do better than the previous two starts."

Chen is 1-0 with a 2.91 ERA in his last four starts at Tampa Bay, with the last three ending in Baltimore victories.

This has been a good matchup for James Loney, who is 7 for 21 with a homer and two doubles off Chen. The first baseman had a two-run double Friday and is hitting .455 with four RBIs in his last six games against Baltimore.

The Orioles' Steve Pearce, a Lakeland, Fla. native, hit a pair of homers Friday, giving him seven and 14 RBIs in his last 17 games at Tampa Bay.