ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays have found an ace.
Blake Snell tied for the major league victory lead with his 18th, Nick Ciuffo and Kevin Kiermaier hit early three-run homers and the Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 14-2 on Friday night.
"He's performed like one," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Blake was really good, again."
Snell (18-5) matched Cleveland's Corey Kluber for the major league lead, after allowing two runs, five hits and striking out nine over 5 1/3 innings.
"I felt like I was around the zone for the most part," Snell said. "The offense did very well. Gave me a quick lead. All credit goes to them."
Tommy Pham had a fifth-inning solo homer and Ji-Man Choi hit a grand slam in the sixth to help the Rays run their home winning streak to nine. Tampa Bay has won 14 of 17 overall, outscoring opponents 93-49.
The loss marks the third time Baltimore (41-100) has had at least 100 losses (1988 and 1954) since relocating from St. Louis following the 1953 season. The franchise had eight 100 or more loss seasons as the St. Louis Browns.
Snell's major league-best since 1913 of giving up one or fewer earned runs in 14 consecutive home starts ended when Joey Rickard hit the lefty's 104th and final pitch for a two-run homer in the sixth.
Rickard, a one-time Tampa Bay minor leaguer, has 17 of 23 RBIs this season in nine games against the Rays.
Ciuffo hit his first major league homer off Dylan Bundy (7-14) in the second before Kiermaier made it 6-0 one inning later on his third homer over his last two games.
"Really cool," Cash said. "His family in the stands, and friends. His best buddy had a full Rays uniform on."
Cuiffo, playing in his fourth big league game, got his fourth RBI on a sacrifice fly in a three-run seventh.
Bundy gave up six runs, four hits and five walks in four innings. The righty has allowed a single-season team record and major league-leading 37 homers.
Bundy said his frustration level is a "10 out of 10 for sure."
"It's been the second half and it showed tonight," Bundy said. "I really had no clue where the ball was going and wasn't executing my pitches. Going through adversity is tough but I just have to keep my head up and keep working in between starts. I think in the end it'll make me stronger and a better pitcher."
Bundy is 0-4 with 10.67 ERA in his last six starts.
Orioles RHP David Hess, Saturday's scheduled starter, was hit in the left eye while playing catch with a football before the game. After being examined by a specialist, he appeared in the dugout wearing an LSU football helmet.
Baltimore RF Adam Jones was out of the lineup. "Adam would be the first to tell you, this is the best he's felt in a long time physically," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Being careful with him physically, I'm not going to tell you that's the complete reason. We've got some people we want to see play."
Orioles: RHP Alex Cobb (blister) is expected to miss his start Sunday. ... OF/DH Mark Trumbo underwent right knee cartilage repair surgery. "No complications, no surprises," Showalter said.
Rays: INF Daniel Robertson had the cast for his surgically repaired left thumb removed Wednesday and is increasing his rehab program.
Hess (3-9) will face a Rays bullpen game Saturday night.