Hellickson leads Rays over Orioles 3-1

Posted July 24, 2012, at 11:37 p.m.

BALTIMORE — Jeremy Hellickson took a three-hitter into the seventh inning to earn his first win in 10 starts, and the Tampa Bay Rays got a home run from light-hitting Brooks Conrad in a 3-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.

Jeff Keppinger had two hits and an RBI for the Rays, who were playing their first road game since the All-Star break. Tampa Bay made the most of six hits in bouncing back from two straight 2-1 defeats against Seattle.

Hellickson (5-6) gave up one run and three hits in 6 1-3 innings, striking out four and walking none. The right-hander was 0-6 since beating Boston on May 16, although he allowed more than three earned runs only once during his losing streak.

Jake McGee struck out the only two batters he faced, Joel Peralta worked a perfect eighth and Fernando Rodney got three outs around two walks to complete the three-hitter and pick up his 28th save in 29 tries.

Adam Jones hit his 23rd homer for the Orioles, who have lost two straight following a five-game winning streak. Baltimore has allowed three runs or fewer in seven straight games.

Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen (8-6) yielded three runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings. The Taiwanese left-hander issued three walks, and two of those runners came around to score.

Sam Fuld, activated off the 60-day disabled list by Tampa Bay before the game, went 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base in his season debut. He had been sidelined since undergoing wrist surgery on April 3.

Tampa Bay went up 2-1 in the fifth when Fuld walked and Conrad homered with two outs. Conrad, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, stepped to the plate with a .180 average and one homer in 50 at-bats.

The Rays added a run in the sixth. B.J. Upton drew a leadoff walk, reached third with one out and scored on a bloop single by Keppinger.

Both starting pitchers were in control early. Neither team got a runner past first base until the fourth inning, when Jones hit a 1-1 fastball over the wall in center field. It was his third home run in 21 career at-bats against Hellickson.

INDIANS 3, TIGERS 2: Aaron Cunningham bunted home the go-ahead run with a suicide squeeze as the Cleveland Indians beat Detroit 3-2, moving within three games of the AL Central-leading Tigers on Tuesday night.

Travis Hafner tripled with one out in the seventh inning off Doug Fister (4-7) and Lou Marson ran for him.

Marson took off running as Cunningham, a defensive replacement hitting .175, dropped a bunt in front of the plate. Fister quickly got the ball and tried to shovel it to catcher Alex Avila. It rolled away, Marson scored, and Cunningham took second on the error.

Miguel Cabrera’s two-run homer off reliever Joe Smith (6-2) tied it at 2 in the top half.

Chris Perez pitched the ninth for his 28th save in 30 chances.

Cleveland is 6-1 against the Tigers. Perez has saved each win. Five have been by two runs or fewer.

Vinnie Pestano pitched a scoreless eighth for Cleveland, which is 29-3 when the right-hander and Perez have been in the same game. The Indians are 20-45 in all other games.

Johnny Damon had an RBI single in the second inning and Carlos Santana singled home a run in the fourth for Cleveland.

Smith thought he had thrown a third strike past Quentin Berry to end the top of the seventh with that 2-0 lead. TV replays showed his 3-2 pitch was over the heart of the plate, but umpire Marvin Hudson judged it to be a tad high. Cabrera then drove a 2-0 pitch over the wall in center for his 24th homer.

Great hustle by Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder helped douse the Indians’ rally in the fourth.

With runners on first and second and none out, Santana singled between first and second, driving home Jason Kipnis. Right fielder Brennan Boesch scooped up the ball and threw toward home, but Fielder cut off the throw and fired to third baseman Cabrera, getting Michael Brantley in a rundown.

Fielder then sprinted across the diamond to backup Cabrera, took a return throw from shortstop Jhonny Peralta and tagged out Brantley trying to reach third with a headfirst slide.

Hafner struck out and Damon grounded out to end the inning.

Jimenez allowed seven singles over six scoreless innings.

Fister gave up three runs and nine hits over seven innings.

NOTES: Fielder’s hustle play resulted in a putout scored 9-3-5-6-3, which made residents of Pearblossom, Calif., proud. That’s their zip code number. … The Indians acquired INF-OF Brent Lillibridge from Boston for minor-league RHP Jose De La Torre. They must make a move to get Lillibridge on the roster Wednesday. … Cleveland tied a season high with its seventh straight errorless game. The Indians have only seven errors in their past 28 games. … Tigers manager Jim Leyland said RHP Anibal Sanchez will start Saturday in Toronto and 2B Omar Infante will bat in the second spot against left-handers and ninth against right-handers. The two were acquired from Miami on Monday. … Ramon Santiago, who has been splitting Tigers second-base duties with Ryan Raburn and Danny Worth, will be the utility infielder. Raburn will play left field against lefty pitchers; Worth was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.

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