Of course Alex Cobb had the chops to pitch in a huge game. His manager knew that the moment he saw Cobb, dressed in leotards and pantyhose and wearing a wig, jump into the arms of teammate Dane De La Rosa last Wednesday at Fenway Park during the now famous rookie dance routine.
"Being caught by De La Rosa in front of the Green Monster, this should be nothing for him," Rays manager Joe Maddon said before Monday's win or say goodbye to the playoffs game against the Orioles.
Cobb turned in one of his best starts of the season and helped the Rays stave off elimination pending the outcome of Monday's Rangers-A's game in Oakland.
The Rays, operating without a safety net, beat the Orioles 5-3 in front of 13,666 at Tropicana Field.
The loss dropped the Orioles to one game behind the first-place Yankees in the American League East with two to play.
The game had the feel of a mid-October playoff game, with Cobb and Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen trading outs for nearly seven innings.
Cobb was dominant from the start, missing the strike zone only four times in the first three innings and retiring the first 10 batters.
Ben Zobrist gave Cobb something to work with when he homered to left field to start the fourth inning.
Cobb went seven innings and allowed two hits, but one was an opposite-field home run by Matt Wieters that sailed over the short wall in left field, the same wall Evan Longoria cleared with his game-winning home run on the final night of the 2011 season.
The Rays took a 4-1 lead in the seventh with three unearned runs.
Longoria reached on an error by Orioles rookie third baseman Manny Manchado. He advanced to third on a single to right field by Jeff Keppiner.
Ben Francisco then lifted a fly ball to medium left field and Longoria raced home, sliding across the plate with the go-ahead run.
After Sam Fuld bounced a single over Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds, Chris Gimenez made it 4-1 with a two-run, opposite field double to right field.
B.J. Upton doubled and scored in the eighth to make 5-1.
But the Orioles made it interesting in the top of the ninth.
Kyle Farnsworth allowed a leadoff single to J.J. Hardy and a two-run homer to Chris Davis that hit the C-ring catwalk in right field.
Fernando Rodney came on for the save, but allowed singles to the first two batters he faced.
But Rodney struck out Jim Thome and Reynolds then retired pinch-hitter Endy Chavez on a bouncer back to the mound for his 47th save of the season.