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MIN@BAL: Chen strikes out seven over 6 2/3 in O's win

Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen has been great over his last 10 outings, but Rays righty Alex Cobb has been even better. The opposing starters will go head to head in Friday night's series opener at Tropicana Field.

Cobb, who's coming off a loss in a one-run, seven-hit performance against the Red Sox on Sunday, will look to get the Rays back on track after getting swept by the Blue Jays. After a lukewarm start to the season, Cobb has been on fire over his last 10, going 5-1 with a 1.55 ERA.

He is 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in three starts against the American League East-leading Orioles this season.

"I just feel like they're putting together, one through nine and for nine innings, extremely quality at-bats," Cobb said. "I've never liked the saying hitters give away at-bats because I know hitters never give away at-bats, but when guys are locked in, that makes it difficult to get them out. They've got that something right now that they're fighting every inch of the way, every out. Nothing's easy. They always had that potential, and they've always had the threat of the long ball and just playing good, solid baseball."

The Orioles, who are 9 1/2 games up on the Yankees for the division lead, will counter with Chen, who's been nearly as potent of late, going 7-1 with a 3.30 ERA in his last 10 appearances.

The 29-year-old bounced back from his second-shortest outing of the season with a solid 6 2/3 innings against the Twins to register his team-best 14th win the last time out.

Chen has fared well on the road recently. He's posted a 3.05 ERA in his last seven road starts since June 1, lowering his road ERA from 5.33 to 3.88.

Rays: Jennings still far off from return
Desmond Jennings continues to miss time with left knee soreness, and it doesn't look like the Rays' leadoff man is getting much closer to returning to center field.

"I reemphasized with him, 'When you know it's starting to feel well enough, give me at least a day to start making different plans,'" manager Joe Maddon said before Thursday's series finale against the Blue Jays. "He assured me that he would, but from the look on his face yesterday, I wasn't encouraged that it's gonna happen any time soon."

Jennings' status has been day to day since he was first scratched before last Friday's game against the Red Sox. But he hasn't played since, and Thursday was his seventh straight game out of the starting lineup.

"I'd be playing if I could play," Jennings said. "I'm not going to shut it down."

The knee soreness was caused by a bone bruise that Jennings sustained after fouling a ball off his knee before the All-Star break. It has been bothering him ever since. Jennings said he's not affected when walking, but he is when running.

Orioles: Walker, Wilson earn Minors honors
Orioles infielder Christian Walker and right-hander Tyler Wilson have been named the organization's Minor League Players of the Year, the club announced on Thursday.

Walker, the Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year, hit a combined .288/.357/.489 with 53 extra-base hits, 96 RBIs and 73 runs scored in 139 games with Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, leading all O's Minor Leaguers in home runs (26) and RBIs this season.

The 23-year-old, selected by the Orioles in the fourth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, was named the first baseman for this year's Eastern League season-ending All-Star team, finishing among the league leaders despite being promoted in July. Walker is ranked by MLB.com as the O's No. 4 prospect.

Wilson, the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year, went a combined 14-8 with a 3.67 ERA in 166 2/3 innings for Bowie and Norfolk this season. He led all Orioles Minor Leaguers in wins (14) and strikeouts (157) and ranked seventh in ERA (3.67).

Worth noting
• Thursday's loss to the Blue Jays dropped the Rays to 31-41 at Tropicana Field this season. That guaranteed a losing record at home for the first time since 2007, when they were 37-44 at The Trop and 66-96 overall.

•Nelson Cruz is the 10th Orioles hitter to record a season with 35 or more home runs and 25 or more doubles.

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