Mountcastle, Hays HRs help Orioles beat skidding Rangers 3-0

Rangers_Orioles_Baseball_75031 Baltimore Orioles' Ryan Mountcastle (6) is greeted by Austin Hays (21) after hitting a solo home run against Texas Rangers starting pitcher Glenn Otto during the fifth inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Baltimore.
Rangers_Orioles_Baseball_87065 Baltimore Orioles' Ryan Mountcastle is greeted by teammates after hitting a solo home run against Texas Rangers starting pitcher Glenn Otto during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Baltimore.
Rangers_Orioles_Baseball_48114 Baltimore Orioles' Ryan Mountcastle (6) watches his fifth inning solo home run hit against Texas Rangers starting pitcher Glenn Otto during a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Baltimore.
Rangers_Orioles_Baseball_85393 Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Zac Lowther (59) delivers during the second inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Baltimore.
Rangers_Orioles_Baseball_83216 Texas Rangers starting pitcher Glenn Otto delivers during the second inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Baltimore.
Rangers_Orioles_Baseball_56283 Texas Rangers' Adolis Garcia looks on from the dugout during the second inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Baltimore.
Rangers_Orioles_Baseball_85714 Texas Rangers right fielder Adolis Garcia catches a foul ball hit by Baltimore Orioles' Austin Hays during the third inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Baltimore.
Rangers_Orioles_Baseball_12541 Baltimore Orioles' Austin Hays hits a single in the first inning against Texas Rangers starting pitcher Glenn Otto during a baseball game, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Baltimore.
Rangers_Orioles_Baseball_91326 Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jahmai Jones bobbles a base hit by Texas Rangers' Isiah Kiner-Falefa during the first inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Baltimore.
Rangers_Orioles_Baseball_59315 Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Zac Lowther (59) delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, in Baltimore.
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BALTIMORE (AP) — Ryan Mountcastle and Austin Hays homered, rookie Zac Lowther pitched five sparkling innings to earn his first major league victory and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Texas Rangers 3-0 Thursday night.

After going winless with a 9.61 ERA in his first six appearances, Lowther (1-2) got into a rhythm against the light-hitting Rangers in this matchup of last-place teams. Lowther allowed three hits and notched a career-high seven strikeouts in his finest outing as a big leaguer.

Tyler Wells worked the ninth to complete the five-hitter and earn his fourth save.

Mountcastle hit a solo shot in the fifth inning off Glenn Otto (0-3) for a 2-0 lead. Mountcastle earlier this month set the Orioles record for home runs by a rookie — eclipsing the 28 by Cal Ripken Jr. in 1982 — and leads the team with 31 homers and 84 RBIs.

Hays went deep in the eighth, his 22nd homer of the season and eighth in September.

The Orioles still own the worst record in the AL (49-104), but this was a nice start to the final homestand of a difficult season that featured a 19-game losing streak and an alarming inability to win at Camden Yards, where they’re 24-51.

It’s been a struggle for the Rangers, too. Texas (55-98) has lost five straight and eight of nine, and appears a good bet to finish with its first 100-loss season since 1973. This would be only the third time the Rangers reached triple-digit defeats since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Otto gave up two runs and five hits with seven strikeouts in five innings. It was his fifth start since coming to Texas in the July 29 trade that sent Joey Gallo to the Yankees.

K TIME

Lowther and Otto entered with no wins between them, and each had an ERA in excess of 9. Yet, both struck out the side in the first inning, and Lowther set a new career high with two more strikeouts in the second. Not to be outdone, Otto also fanned two batters in the bottom half.

ROOKIE RACE

Two of the leading candidates for AL Rookie of the Year honors are participating in this four-game series. Texas OF Adolis Garcia came in batting .243 with 30 HRs, 83 RBIs. In addition, his 14 assists were second-most among big league outfielders.

Mountcastle was at .258, and his homer put him ahead of Garcia in homers and RBIs.

Tampa Bay OF Randy Arozarena (.271, 19, 65) has the advantage of playing for a first-place club, but Texas manager Chris Woodward believes Garcia’s defense is the difference-maker.

“He’s made big-time plays time and time again in big moments,” Woodward said. “That should be worth a little bit more.”

Garcia is more interested in finishing strong than garnering votes from baseball writers.

“Those are things I can’t control,” he said through an interpreter. “I’m just trying to get things done on the field.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: INF Ramón Urias is done for the season after being placed on the 10-day IL on Wednesday with a right adductor strain. … OF Anthony Santander (hamstring) is a “day or two away” from returning and is “going to be sore probably for the rest of the year,” manager Brandon Hyde said.

UP NEXT

Rangers: Right-hander Spencer Howard (0-4, 6.86 ERA) tries again to get into the win column on Friday night. It will be his 14th start and 18th appearance in 2021.

Orioles: Rookie left-hander Alexander Wells (1-3, 7.96) strives for his first victory since winning in relief on June 29 at Houston.

___

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