The Orioles needed a starting pitching performance to remember Saturday night. They needed something to restore faith in their rotation, something to help stop their sudden swoon.

Brian Matusz was up for the challenge. The 25-year-old left-hander turned in his best performance of the season Saturday at Tropicana Field, throwing a season-high 7 1/3 innings of two-hit ball in a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay, lifting the Orioles back into a first-place tie with the Rays atop the American League East.

"He was the difference in that ballgame," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You get that four-pitch mix working, you can have some fun."

Less than 24 hours after the Orioles were dropped into second place with a sixth straight loss, Matusz had a certain swagger on the mound against the Rays. He located his fastball while having the moxie to throw his slider and curveball for strikes both early and late in the count, and he later found his change up in key spots.

The Orioles (30-23) won just their third game in their last 11 and won their first game on this key nine-game road trip against AL East opponents at the midway point of the trip.

"Any time I step on the mound, I want to go out there and compete and bring my best game," Matusz said. "But to end the losing streak is definitely a good feeling. It was nice to be able to go out there and end it and get back on the winning side of things.