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Wobbling Rays blanked again, lose 2-0 to Gausman and Orioles

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Rays' hitting funk is still in full swing.

The wobbling Rays loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning yet didn't score, and lost to the Baltimore Orioles 2-0 Wednesday.

The Rays were blanked for an AL-leading 11th time, finishing with five hits and going 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

"We just didn't hit," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "How many times have I had to say that this year?"

Kevin Gausman pitched six shutout innings, Steve Pearce's opposite-field double snapped a scoreless tie and Nelson Cruz added his major league-leading 22nd home run.

Pearce homered during a 7-5 victory on Tuesday night, and put the Orioles ahead this time with a line drive down the right field line that drove in Nick Markakis from first base in the fifth inning.

Alex Cobb (2-5) would have gotten through the fifth inning unscathed if second baseman Ben Zobrist hadn't mishandled Markakis' grounder for an error.

Zobrist said the ball slipped out of his glove.

"That's really not a difficult play," Maddon said. "Even with that, get two strikes on the next hitter and he puts the ball in the perfect place."

Gausman (3-1) allowed five hits, walked one and struck out five.

The Rays loaded the bases in the first on a leadoff walk, Kevin Kiermaier's single and shortstop J.J. Hardy's fielding error. Gausman worked out of the jam, striking out James Loney and Zobrist before getting David DeJesus to foul out along the left field line to end the threat.

"The moment was the first inning," Maddon said. "You have an opportunity to really put this thing in nice gear."

The Rays wasted another opportunity in the sixth when Evan Longoria had a leadoff double, Loney struck out and Zobrist hit a soft liner to left field that Pearce caught on the run before tossing the ball to second for a double play.

Longoria thought there were two outs.

Cobb yielded four hits and four walks in seven innings. The right-hander fanned six in his sixth start since returning from a five-week stay on the disabled list with a left oblique strain.

"It's kind of been the story of the year so far for us in the fact that on those days we pitch good, it's been tough to come across some runs," Cobb said. "On the other hand of that is we're pitching poorly and the offence is putting up a lot of runs."

Pearce went 2 for 4 and is hitting .444 with three homers, three doubles, five walks, five runs scored and six RBIs against Tampa Bay.

Cruz, who also leads the majors with 58 RBIs, homered for the first time since June 3. The solo shot off Kirby Yates made it 2-0 in the eighth.

Tommy Hunter pitched two perfect innings and Zach Britton worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his ninth save in 10 opportunities.

NOTES: Pearce, who grew up in nearby Lakeland, has three homers in 18 at-bats against the Rays this season. All of the homers have come at Tropicana Field. ... After striking out with the bases loaded in the first and hitting into a double play in the sixth, Zobrist has one hit in his last 36 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Zobrist, who returned May 30 after missing 13 games with a dislocated left thumb, is playing with soreness in the thumb. ... The Rays continue a 10-day homestand, opening a four-game set against Houston, with RHP Chris Archer going against RHP Collin McHugh (4-4) on Thursday.

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