Sharp Shields helps Rays finish 3-game sweep of Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Rays completed their best-ever month in the team's most memorable season by far.

James Shields allowed one run over seven innings and Jason Bartlett hit his first homer in more than a year to help the AL East-leading Rays complete a three-game sweep with a 10-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

Tampa Bay went 21-8 in August, setting a team record for wins in a month. The Rays, who will have their first winning season and possibly a playoff trip this year, are a club-best 33 games over .500 at 84-51.

"This series was really good to go into September," Shields said. "Our hitters are really on right now and our pitchers are pitching as good as ever. We're really putting it together right now."

Shields (12-8) gave up six hits to match his career high for wins set last season. He has won seven of his last nine starts at home.

Bartlett had four hits and drove in two runs, including a solo shot during a two-run seventh that made it 10-1. It was his first homer since Aug. 27, 2007.

Tampa Bay, which has the majors' best home mark at 52-19, lead second-place Boston by 5 1/2 games after the Red Sox lost 4-2 to the Chicago White Sox.

"We can't take anything for granted because the moment we do that everything blows up," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I think if you take care of the seconds, the minutes and hours will take care of themselves."

The Rays had 34 runs, 40 hits and walked 25 times in the series. They were also hit by six pitches and twice drew four walks in a row.

Baltimore manager Dave Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz will meet with the Orioles pitching staff before Monday's game at Boston.

"In an understatement, not very pretty," Trembley said. "Not real pleased, you've got to sit there and watch 180 pitches everyday. I'd rather have the fastball thrown over the plate and have people hit it instead of giving runs away like that. It will be addressed."

Luke Scott had a two-run double during a three-run eighth for the Orioles (63-73), who have lost 10 of 12 to drop a season-worst 10 games under .500.

"We got flat-out beat," Baltimore first baseman Kevin Millar said.

Willy Aybar put the Rays ahead 2-0 on a two-out, two-run double off Brian Burres (7-9) in the first. Tampa Bay went up 3-0 on a second-inning RBI double by Shawn Riggans.

Ben Zobrist hit a sacrifice fly and Bartlett had a run-scoring single as Tampa Bay took a 5-0 lead in the third.

Burres gave up seven runs and nine hits in five-plus innings. The Orioles have lost the last 10 times in which the left-hander has pitched against the Rays, including four starts. Baltimore also fell to 3-19 on Sundays this season.

The Rays extended their lead to 8-1 in the sixth thanks to the wildness of reliever Alberto Castillo, who hit two batters in a row and then walked the next two before being pulled. B.J. Upton was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded before consecutive walks to Carlos Pena and Rocco Baldelli.

Upton, hit on the ankle, was replaced defensively in the seventh. Upton said the ankle is fine and will play when Tampa Bay opens a three-game series Tuesday with the New York Yankees.

Upton picked up his 40th stolen base of the season when he swiped second in the fifth. He joins Carl Crawford -- who has done it five times -- as the only Tampa Bay players to have 40 steals in a season.

Game notes
Bartlett was hit by a pitch in the eighth. Maddon said he thought the pitch by reliever Jim Johnson was intentional. ... The Rays are 11-3 against Baltimore this season. ... Tampa Bay C Dioner Navarro (hamstrings) was out of the lineup for the fourth time in the last five games. Maddon said Navarro, who started Saturday, was "a little bit sore." ... Baltimore plans to recall LHP Garrett Olson from Triple-A Norfolk to start Monday's game. ... Rays closer Troy Percival (knee) is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. ... Orioles OF Adam Jones (foot) is set to return from the disabled list and play on Monday.