Just three batters into his outing against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon, Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman was already on the brink of disaster.

From his first pitches of the day, Gausman knew the strike zone was getting pinched. And a leadoff walk quickly turned into a bases-loaded jam following a looping single and fielding error by two-time American League Gold Glove shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Facing the possibility of an early exit, Gausman went on to show the Orioles another example of his continuing evolution into a dependable major league starting pitcher.

Gausman escaped a 35-pitch first inning without allowing a run and proceeded to throw six scoreless innings as the Orioles beat the Rays, 2-0, for their sixth shutout win of the season in front of an announced 12,448 at Tropicana Field.

“Obviously, it wasn't what I wanted,” Gausman said. “It's pretty tough to get out of bases loaded and no outs without guys scoring a run. Honestly, I tried to dig deep right there, and I was kind of thinking, ‘OK, I'm going to need my best stuff this inning, whether I blow out later in the game and get tired, this is big. I need to get a zero right here.' That's really all I thought about.”

The win Wednesday gave the Orioles (37-34) a series victory in Tampa Bay, and it was their seventh win in eight games against the Rays this season.

After a day off Thursday, the Orioles will begin a three-game series against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Friday having won six of their first 10 games in a 13-game stretch against AL East teams.

Left fielder Steve Pearce, batting second for the second straight game, drove in the Orioles' first run with a two-out RBI double in the fifth inning for an unearned run off Rays right-hander Alex Cobb.

Nelson Cruz hit his major league-leading 22nd home run of the season, a solo shot in the eighth inning off reliever Kirby Yates that ended the designated hitter's 14-game home-run drought.