Baltimore (37-48) at Tampa Bay (42-45)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: St. Petersburg, FL
Temp: 74° F
  • Game info: 6:05 pm EDT Thu Jul 15, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The All-Star break came at a good time for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Losers of four straight and seven of nine, Victor Zambrano and the Devil Rays open a four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.

The Devil Rays, who’ve dipped three games below .500 after being a season-high two games over on July 3, had won 30 of 40 before their recent slide.

Before the break, the Devil Rays were swept in a four-game set by the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

In the series finale, a 10-3 loss Sunday, the Devil Rays allowed five homers and starter Mark Hendrickson yielded five runs in just three innings.

Despite the slump, the Devil Rays feel confident after their surprising 20-6 run in June, which included a 12-game winning streak.

“We now believe that every time we come to the ballpark, something good is going to happen,” said Tampa Bay outfielder Aubrey Huff.

Zambrano had personal six-game winning streak snapped in a 7-1 loss to the Yankees last Thursday. In 6 1-3 innings, the right-hander allowed five runs, six hits and seven walks for his first loss since May 15.

The Orioles dropped four of five to end their disappointing first half, including an 11-7 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

After hiring Lee Mazzilli to replace manager Mike Hargrove and adding free agents Miguel Tejada, Rafael Palmeiro, Javy Lopez and Sidney Ponson, the Orioles had hopes of ending a run of six straight fourth-place finishes in the AL East. But at the half, the Orioles sit in last place, 17 1/2 games behind the league-leading Yankees.

“It’s frustrating because our fans didn’t expect us to be in last place. They expected us to be in second or third,” third baseman Melvin Mora said.

The Orioles’ 37-48 record was their worst at the break since 1999.

“It’s very disappointing,” said outfielder Larry Bigbie, who’s hitting .261 after batting .303 a year ago. “Where we are right now, to be in last place, we never thought that would happen.”

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Starting Pitchers

D. Cabrera LAA vs. V. Zambrano NYY
12-8 Record 11-7
5.00 ERA 4.37
76 K 123
89 BB 102
1.58 WHIP 1.56