Jeremy Hellickson came within one out of a three-hitter on his birthday and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees, 3-0, Sunday in St. Petersburg, Fla., to complete a season-opening sweep and match the best start in club history.
Carlos Pena and Jeff Keppinger homered for Tampa Bay, which also started with three consecutive wins in 2002.
The Yankees are 0-3 for the first time since 1998, when they went on to win 114 games and the World Series.
Celebrating his 25th birthday, Hellickson limited the Yankees to doubles by Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. The 2011 AL Rookie of the Year walked four and struck out four and was one out from his third career complete game and second shutout when he was replaced by Fernando Rodney after 118 pitches.
Pena homered off starter Phil Hughes in the third. Another offseason acquisition, Keppinger hit a solo shot off Boone Logan in the sixth. Matt Joyce drove in the Rays’ other run with a first-inning, broken-bat triple that skipped past right fielder Raul Ibanez.
Orioles 3, Twins 1 - Jason Hammel took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in his Baltimore debut and the Orioles beat Minnesota for a three-game sweep at Camden Yards.
Hammel faced the minimum 21 batters through seven innings, allowing two walks, before Justin Morneau had a leadoff double off the right-field wall in the eighth.
The crowd of 14,738 stood in appreciation of Hammel’s performance, although he still had a 3-0 lead to protect. Josh Willingham followed with an RBI double and Sean Burroughs drew a one-out walk before Hammel finished by striking out Luke Hughes and retiring Ben Revere on a fly to right.
Jim Johnson worked the ninth to earn his second save and complete the two-hitter.
Cubs 4, Nationals 3 - Jeff Samardzija dominated into the ninth inning and host Chicago beat Washington for its first win of the Theo Epstein era.
Samardzija was spectacular in his sixth career start, allowing four hits and an earned run with eight strikeouts. There were no bullpen meltdowns this time after Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol failed to hold late leads in each of the first two games, but there was some drama in the ninth.
Ryan Zimmerman reached on an error and Adam LaRoche drilled his second two-run homer in as many games to make it 4-3. Marmol came in and walked Jayson Werth before Xavier Nady fouled out to Starlin Castro near the third-base dugout to end the game for his first save.
Mets 7, Braves 5 - Jonathon Niese took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his first start since signing a rich contract and host New York completed a season-opening sweep of Atlanta.
Niese (1-0) allowed just two balls out of the infield through six innings and retired 15 in a row before walking Dan Uggla leading off the seventh. On the next pitch, Freddie Freeman singled cleanly to right.
Diamondbacks 7, Giants 6 - In Phoenix, Ryan Roberts and Lyle Overbay hit consecutive two-out homers off Matt Cain and Arizona tied a franchise record by rallying from six runs down to beat San Francisco and sweep the three-game series.
Rangers 5, White Sox 0 - Matt Harrison pitched six scoreless innings and Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, and David Murphy homered to lead host Texas.
Indians 4, Blue Jays 3 - Carlos Santana hit two home runs on his 26th birthday, Derek Lowe pitched seven strong innings, and host Cleveland beat Toronto for its first win.
Pirates 5, Phillies 4 - Andrew McCutchen singled home pinch runner Josh Harrison with two outs in the ninth inning to lift host Pittsburgh over Philadelphia.
Royals 7, Angels 3 - Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler homered and drove in three runs apiece and Kansas City beat Los Angeles to take two of three in Anaheim, Calif.
Cardinals 9, Brewers 3 - Lance Lynn pitched two-hit ball into the seventh inning, Carlos Beltran and Shane Robinson hit home runs, and visiting St. Louis rolled past Milwaukee.
Reds 6, Marlins 5 - Jay Bruce homered twice and Scott Rolen drove in the winning run in the ninth inning with a sharp infield single that third baseman Hanley Ramirez failed to handle, lifting host Cincinnati to a come-from-behind win over Miami.
Padres 8, Dodgers 4 - Clayton Richard and two relievers combined on a four-hitter, Chase Headley hit a grand slam and Andy Parrino had his first big-league homer, and host San Diego beat Los Angeles to avoid a four-game sweep.
Astros 3, Rockies 2 - Brian Bogusevic drove in the go-ahead run after Jose Altuve scored on Jordan Pacheco’s throwing error to tie it in the eighth inning and former staff ace Brett Myers pitched a scoreless ninth for the save in his first appearance as host Houston’s closer, lifting the Astros past Colorado.