The AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles have hit the most home runs in baseball, and it's not even close.
Seeking an eighth win in nine games, the Orioles hit the road Friday night for the first of three against the slumping Tampa Bay Rays.Baltimore (82-57) has slugged 185 homers, 25 more than the next-closest team. Nick Hundley belted a three-run shot and Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop also went deep as the Orioles swept Cincinnati with Thursday's 9-7 win.Baltimore blew a six-run lead before J.J. Hardy delivered a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh inning."A `W' for Baltimore? That's the way I draw them up," said manager Buck Showalter, whose team remained 9 1/2 games ahead of New York for the division lead. "They don't have to be aesthetically pleasing. At this stage, I'm not looking for pretty, I'm looking for `W.' I thought it was beautiful. I thought it was real pretty."Schoop has homered in each of the last three games, giving him 15 on the season to rank third among rookies. Cruz, meanwhile, leads the majors with 37 after hitting his third in five games.Baltimore outhomered its opponents 22-6 in winning nine of 11 on its recently completed homestand."The homestand, that was huge for us," Hardy said. "I think we had a chance to sweep every series. To take this one tonight was big, and now we've got all in division. It gets bigger."Among the league leaders in wins, Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen (14-4, 3.83 ERA) has also received a major league-best 5.92 runs of support per game. The left-hander is looking to win a third consecutive decision after allowing four runs over 6 2/3 innings in Sunday's 12-8 victory over Minnesota.Chen has made it through at least five innings in all but two of his 26 starts, with the exceptions being his last two meetings with the Rays. He's surrendered seven runs, 14 hits and five walks over eight innings in those outings.Evan Longoria and James Loney are a combined 8 for 19 with two doubles apiece against Chen this year.Tampa Bay (67-74) is coming off a three-game sweep by Toronto after losing 1-0 in 10 innings in Thursday's finale. Jake Odorizzi scattered three hits over 7 1/3 innings, but the offense couldn't come through.The Rays have lost 13 of 19 and were shut out for the 17th time this year."In a microcosm kind of a way, that's 2014 right there," manager Joe Maddon said. "We have exceeded cardinal sins, mortal sins, original sins -- we've passed them all up. We have totally wasted a lot of good pitching."Alex Cobb (9-7, 2.98) had won a career-best seven consecutive decisions before losing 3-0 to Boston on Sunday. The right-hander, who gave up two runs -- one earned -- over 6 1/3 innings, lowered his ERA to 1.55 over his last 10 starts.Cobb is 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA over a six-start stretch against the Orioles. However, he was removed following a 33-pitch fourth inning in a 4-2 loss at Baltimore last Tuesday in his shortest appearance of the year.Cobb has made things difficult on several of the Orioles' best hitters, including Cruz (3 for 14), Chris Davis (2 for 13) and Adam Jones (4 for 21). Schoop has also struggled, going 0 for 7 in their matchups.