O’s back Chen with early offense in series-opening win over Rays

Wei-Yin Chen had been struggling to get outs and the Orioles had been struggling to score runs.

But Chen had a strong outing and the Orioles came up with their second-highest run total of the season tonight in a 7-1 win over Tampa Bay in the opener of a three-game series.

In the first three innings the Orioles scored six runs, one more than they had scored in three games over the weekend against Toronto. In those three at-bats, O’s hitters went 9-for-18 with five doubles and 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

J.J. Hardy went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI and Matt Wieters was 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI as six different O’s drove in runs. The bottom of the order - Hardy, Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Flaherty - went 7-for-12 with three runs and four RBIs. The Orioles were 6-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Over his first two starts, Chen was 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA and had allowed 21 hits over 10 2/3 innings and a .412 average against.

But he entered this outing with a record of 2-1 and ERA of 2.13 in his previous six starts against the Rays. He began this outing by retiring the first 10 batters he faced and by taking a no-hitter into the fifth.

He wound up pitching 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and one run with two walks and four strikeouts. Chen, who threw 99 pitches, is now 2-1 with an ERA of 4.76.

The Orioles had lost 11 of the last 13 games between these teams last season including going 1-5 in their last six games at home before winning the season series opener tonight. The Orioles improve to 5-5 against the AL East and 6-7 on the year.

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