ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays gave a full house little to cheer about.
Kevin Millwood allowed two hits over seven innings, Felix Pie hit a two-run triple and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Rays 2-0 before a capacity crowd of 36,973 on Wednesday night.
The Rays gave away 20,000 tickets for the regular-season home finale. Fans begin lining up outside the domed stadium several hours before gametime. The team said the allotment of free tickets was exhausted about 45 minutes before the first pitch.
“I think it’s cool, absolutely,” left-hander David Price said of the ticket giveaway. “It’s pretty neat.”
Tampa Bay clinched its second playoff berth in three years before 17,891 on Tuesday night. Monday night’s potential clincher drew 12,446, a number that moved stars Evan Longoria and Price to complain about a lack of fan support.
Millwood (4-16) struck out seven and walked three. Jim Johnson gave up a single during the eighth before Koji Uehara completed a three-hitter and picked up his 11th save.
“They know they’re in, but they also know these games are meaningful,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “So you realize it when you’re able to shut them out here in their own place and that environment, it makes you real proud of everybody.”
The Rays remained a half-game in front of second-place New York in the AL East. The Yankees lost 8-4 at Toronto.
“I thought we were definitely there tonight,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “We just got outpitched. That happens.”
Tampa Bay center fielder B.J. Upton made a diving catch on Luke Scott’s liner with a runner on first and no outs in the seventh. However, later in the inning Pie drove in two runs for a 2-0 lead with a triple off Jeff Niemann (11-8) that went over right fielder Matt Joyce’s head.
Pie’s hit stopped a stretch of 17 consecutive scoreless innings for the Orioles, who took two of three from Tampa Bay. The victory ensured Baltimore (63-95) – 31-22 under Showalter – will not lose 100 games this year.
“I haven’t heard anybody speak about it in here. I’ve thought about it a little,” Millwood said. “It’s a little embarrassing to lose 100. We’ve played really good baseball here the last month-and-a-half. I don’t think anybody in contention really cares to play this team right now. I think we’re kind of clicking pretty much all cylinders and I think we can play with anybody right now.”
Niemann gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings. The right-hander is 1-5 in seven starts since returning from a strained right shoulder on Aug. 25.
Tampa Bay loaded the bases with two outs during the seventh, but failed to score when Millwood struck out Upton.
The Rays used their plaid billed hats for the first time in a game. The team marketing department came up with the cap idea after Tampa Bay wore plaid jackets (called Braysers) during a theme West Coast road trip last month.
“All this stuff has been done in different ways before,” Maddon said. “When something new comes out, people, some enjoy it, some frown upon it, some don’t get it and that’s OK.”
Notes: Baltimore 2B Brian Roberts continues not to feel well and was out of the lineup for the second straight game. … Orioles RHP Jake Arrieta has decided not to have surgery for a bone spur near his right elbow after getting a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum. … Baltimore RHP Rick VandenHurk, a native of the Netherlands, has organized a series of free youth baseball clinics in his home country and Belgium during November. Teammates Adam Jones and Jeremy Guthrie are among those scheduled to take part. … Uehara extended his club record of not walking a batter to 30 straight appearances. He has struck out 41 since his last walk on July 16.
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