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Rays

Upton homer sets tone as Rays trip Orioles 2-0

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 10:46 PM
ST. PETERSBURG -

It was loud and it was long and it put B.J. Upton in very good company. His brother, Justin, too.

There were a few storylines attached to the home run Upton drove deep into the left field seats during fourth inning Friday.

It was the 100th of his career, coming moments after Justin, who plays for the Diamondbacks, hit the 100th home run of his career for the Diamondbacks in Philadelphia. The Upton brothers became the sixth set of brothers to each hit that many during their major league careers.

"It's cool that we kind of did that on the same day," Upton said. "But it's just one homer. I'm glad it happened, and now it's over with."

It also made B.J. the eighth player in major league history to have 100 career home runs and 200 career stolen bases before his 28th birthday.

More importantly, Upton's home run proved to be all the offense the Rays needed in a 2-0 victory against the Orioles in front of 18,410 at Tropicana Field.

It was the third straight win for the Rays, giving them their first three-game winning streak since they won four straight June 7-10.

"Feels good," manager Joe Maddon said. "We have been a back and forth group for the most part. We've pitched very well. The offense has showed up and not showed up."

The offense showed up enough to make a winner out of Matt Moore, who struggled through 5 1/3 innings but won his second straight game and improved to 8-7.

Moore turned a 1-0 lead over to the bullpen, and Jake McGee, Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney did the rest.

Rodney pitched a perfect ninth inning to record his major league-leading 32nd save. It was his 19th straight scoreless appearance covering a total of 20 innings. It is the longest scoreless streak this year for a Rays pitcher.

Desmond Jennings gave them an extra run to work with a solo home run to left field in the sixth.

With the way the Rays pitching has been, those two runs were more than enough.

"(A two-run lead) is never comfortable," Upton said, "but I think with our bullpen it's about as comfortable as you can get."

McGee replaced Moore with a runner on first and one out and retired the only two batters he faced. After going eight innings and seven innings in his previous two starts, leaving that early with a high pitch count (108) and that slim of a lead didn't exactly bother Moore.

"There's no extra sweat when you come off the mound and have runners in scoring position," Moore said.

That's because the Rays bullpen has basically been lights out, allowing only two runs and striking out 60 over their last 43 innings.

The Rays are almost at the point where they knew only a few runs is more than enough runs for a victory. Friday's win was their fourth shutout in their past six games.

"Obviously that's the way it's been, but we don't want to keep it that way," Upton said. "We want to score more runs. These guys have been pitching their butts off for us all year. Hopefully we can turn it around, score some more runs for them and let them relax on the mound a little bit."

Upton said he texted Justin about their big night before reaching his locker to talk with the media.

They each hit their 99th home runs on the same night. In fact, it was the 13th time the Upton Brothers homered on the same day.

"Mom and Dad have to be really proud," Maddon said. "Brothers have to feel great about it, but just think about being the parents at that moment. That's pretty neat."

The bothers join Joe, Vince and Dom DiMaggio, Clete and Ken Boyer, Aaron and Brett Boone, Sandy and Roberto Alomar and Irish and Bob Muesel as the only brother combinations to reach the century mark for homers.

"We hadn't really talked about it," Upton said. "It's not something that we were really focused on, it just kind of happened."

B.J. joins Ricky Henderson, Cesar Cedeño, Barry and Bobby Bonds, Eric Davis, Lloyd Moseby and Hanley Ramirez as the only players to join the 100 home run, 200 steal club before their 28th birthday.

"Anytime you can be in the same sentence with any of those guys it's always an honor," Upton said. "Glad I'm in the position to be able to do that. Ricky Henderson is definitely one of the guys I looked up to growing up watching baseball. To even be mentioned with those caliber players with their track records is definitely an honor."

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