PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Wade Davis opened on a high note Monday, even though the Rays took their third straight defeat in a 3-1 loss to the Orioles at Charlotte Sports Park.
Davis, who has been in the starting rotation the past two seasons, is competing for a spot this spring. He made his first start on Monday and allowed one hit in two scoreless innings of work against the Orioles. In the process the right-hander looked sharp, striking out one while tossing 20 of his 28 pitches for strikes.
"I thought [the outing] was good," Davis said. "I stayed under control, threw all of my pitches, and I threw everything for strikes. I've got to get better at some things, but it was a good first day."
Alex Cobb pitched a scoreless fourth before the Rays right-hander encountered trouble in the fifth. Xavier Avery and Endy Chavez had one-out singles before Cobb walked Matt Antonelli to load the bases. Nick Johnson then walked to put the Orioles up 1-0 and chase Cobb from the game.
Alfredo Simon started for the Orioles. The right-hander, hoping to find a spot somewhere on the staff, did nothing to hurt his chances, allowing just one hit while striking out two in two scoreless frames.
"I'm feeling very good," Simon said. "I just tried to work on my pitching, I just feel comfortable, control, breaking ball and slider, no matter what the count is.
"... I really worked on my slider, because sometimes I know the hitter will look for a fastball. Because I'm a power pitcher, when I get a 2-2 count, I can throw a slider for a strike. It worked really good today."
Ben Zobrist, who had 72 extra-base hits for the Rays in 2011, got his first hit of the spring in the first inning. And, of course it went for extra bases as he slapped a double to right off Simon.
Zobrist's hit was the Rays' lone base knock through seven innings.
Up next for the Rays: The Rays will host the Twins in a 1:05 p.m. ET game Tuesday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park when Jeff Niemann makes his first start of the spring. The right-hander has been a member of the team's starting rotation for the past two seasons, but he finds himself in competition with Matt Moore and Wade Davis to earn a spot in this year's rotation, which will accommodate only two of the three hurlers. In addition, Carlos Pena said he expects to play in Tuesday's game.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.