ST. PETERSBURG — If you think the Rays are holding their pitching staff together with baling wire, duct tape and an overbooked shuttle to Triple-A Durham, a bigger story might be how their bats keep producing runs no matter who is swinging them.
The Rays' death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts offense struck again Sunday, an 8-3 win over the Orioles before an announced 13,311 at Tropicana Field, giving them a home series win before heading to the West Coast again for a Memorial Day game at Oakland.
Brad Miller drove in three with a home run and double in his first two at-bats. Carlos Gomez, who flashed some leather in rightfield with a diving catch in foul territory, hit his sixth home run of the season.
But it was the way the Rays kept the assembly line moving during a six-run third inning that rescued another shaky appearance by "the opener" Sergio Romo, his second against the Orioles in 48 hours.
"Lot of professionals in here,'' said Miller, who batted leadoff for the second straight game. "A lot of guys, it seems like we can string it together. We have competitive at-bats, really 1 through 12, everybody on the roster, which is good.''
The Ray' climb back to within one game of .500 at 25-26 is pretty remarkable, considering whom they've done it without. Putting aside the offseason departures of Evan Longoria, Steven Souza Jr., Logan Morrison and Corey Dickerson, the Rays have had to endure stints on the disabled list of Matt Duffy, Gomez, Adeiny Hechavarria and Kevin Kiermaier, who remains out with torn ligaments in his thumb.
Then came Friday's trade to the Mariners of Denard Span, an effective leadoff hitter who was tied for the team lead with 28 RBIs.
"I think Denard was a big part of that,'' Miller said. "He kind of set the tone for that for us through spring and how he started the year, and he rubbed off on us. I just think we have a good unit and just try to pass it off.''
Down 3-0, Miller led off the Rays' bottom-half of the first by blasting a pitch off the D ring in right for his fifth home run of the season.
The Rays scored six in the third inning off normally tough Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, two coming home on Miller's double off the leftfield wall. Miller's three RBIs on the day matched his total from the previous 19 games.
"It was needed, especially the way the game started out,'' manager Kevin Cash said of the six-run rally. "I don't think anybody was in too good of a mood after the first inning. We didn't match up the way we wanted to. We walked a couple guys that we didn't want to and got down behind 3-0. And Kevin Gausman has done a terrific job against us in the past, not only this year, but past years, of really quieting our bats.
"But credit to our guys to find a way to ultimately tie it and take the lead after that.''
Miller and Gomez weren't the only hitting stars. Wilson Ramos had two more hits to lift his average to .310, and the Rays got two hits and two RBIs from third baseman Christian Arroyo, the former Hernando High star. Arroyo drew a walk to start the third and capped it with a two-run single as the Rays sent 12 to the plate in the inning.
"We were just trying to make Gausman work there, trying to make him throw pitches in the zone,'' said Arroyo, who raised his average to .412 (7-for-17). "He's got good stuff, and he's had a history of having good stuff, so really against him we weren't trying to do too much: stay with our approach and really swing at strikes.
"When he's got that splitter working, that's his strikeout pitch. We had some two-strike counts where guys were spitting on that and then you hope some balls get left up, and guys put some good swings on balls.''
It hasn't been easy for Arroyo, who has had to adjust to not playing every day. He said he's taking batting practice at high velocity off the pitching machine in the cage, "that way when I get in there, 95 (mph) doesn't look like 115.''
Arroyo, who turns 23 Wednesday, said he had a lot of friends and family at the Trop to watch the homestand.
"It's always exciting to play for a team I grew up watching,'' he said. "But to get back here and actually play on the same field … it's special.''
The Rays weren't that sharp on the mound to start the game, with Romo and Nuno (four walks) combining for five base on balls in three innings. But Austin Pruitt scattered three hits over 5 2/3 innings to earn his first save.