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Tillman dominates Sox in eight solid frames

Sure, the Orioles would like to control their own destiny right now in their quest for an American League East crown.

But for now, they'll have to settle for simply being in contention heading into Game 162 -- quite a feat for a club that sat 10 games back on July 18.

They'll need help, but the Orioles are still very much alive in the AL East as they take on Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. Baltimore trails the Yankees, who host the Red Sox, by one game.

If the Yankees lose and the Orioles win, it would force a one-game tiebreaker between the two clubs in Baltimore on Thursday. The winner would secure a ticket to the AL Division Series. The loser would play in a winner-take-all Wild Card game on Friday.

Last season, it was the out-of-contention Orioles who beat Boston to play a vital role in the Rays' final-day clinch.

This year, the final-day drama in the AL East is similar -- only now it's the Orioles who are fighting for a spot in the ALDS. And their Game 162 comes at the site of the biggest drama last season -- Tropicana Field.

Chris Tillman, who is 9-2 this season with a 2.78 ERA in 14 starts, gets the ball for Baltimore. As a club, the Orioles are 5-1 in Tillman's last six outings, and five of those were quality starts for the right-hander.

"I'm happy with what I've achieved so far this year, but like we've been saying all year, we're not done yet," Tillman said. "We've got a long way to go. It's an exciting time for all of us. I can't tell you how happy I am with this team and the way things have been going, playing good baseball. We've just got to keep it going."

Tillman has allowed just 13 hits over his last 30 innings pitched, during which he has posted a 1.20 ERA.

Though the game clearly doesn't mean as much for Tampa Bay, manager Joe Maddon isn't going to call off the dogs.

"I'm real greedy right now," Maddon said. "We're playing straight up. These games still mean something to the integrity of the game, so we're gonna try and win."

Jeremy Hellickson (9-11, 3.20 ERA) gets the ball for the Rays, looking to become Tampa Bay's fifth 10-game winner this season. That would mark the third straight year the Rays had five pitchers win at least 10 games.

In his last start, Hellickson surrendered nine hits in 5 2/3 innings, but he managed to limit the damage to two earned runs. He wound up taking the loss against the White Sox -- one of just two Rays losses in their last 13 games.

Orioles: Davis' power surge
With his fourth-inning home run on Tuesday night, Orioles right fielder Chris Davis tied a club record with a homer in six consecutive games.

The streak ties him with Reggie Jackson, who hit homers in six consecutive games for Baltimore from July 18-23, 1976. The Major League record is eight, accomplished by Dale Long, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey Jr.

Davis has had a strong year for the Orioles this season, belting a career-high 33 homers with a career-high 85 RBIs, while hitting .272.

Rays: Rodney closing in on historic season
With a 0.61 ERA, Tampa Bay closer Fernando Rodney has put himself in a position to break the single-season ERA record for a reliever with 50 or more appearances. He passed Dennis Eckersley's 1990 mark on Monday night.

"I think it started in the offseason last year in the Dominican winter ball," Rodney said. "I did the same kind of job I've been doing here, a lot of strikes, a lot of confidence. When I came in Spring Training, I said, 'I feel ready to go. If I have a chance to pitch like I did in the Dominican, I think I'm gonna do a very good job.'"

Rodney was also named the Rays' MVP on Tuesday afternoon at a team luncheon.

Worth noting
• Orioles center fielder Adam Jones has hit three homers in 26 at-bats against Hellickson, and he has posted a .308 average with a .692 slugging percentage.

• With a win, the Rays would become just the third team to win at least 90 games in each of the last three seasons. The Rangers and Yankees are the other two to do so.

• Orioles pitchers have combined to hold the Rays to just 15 runs in their last nine meetings.

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