BALTIMORE (AP)—Winning a second consecutive series meant more to Jerry Hairston and the Baltimore Orioles than reaching .500.
Baltimore won for the fifth time in six games in front of 18,017 fans—the smallest crowd in Camden Yards’ 12-year history.
“You guys always talk about .500, but we don’t care. … If we keep winning series, that means we’re winning ballgames,” Hairston said.
After winning two of three in Cleveland, the Orioles took three of four from the Devil Rays to reach .500. Since improving to 18-17 last May 10, the Orioles have had a winning record only once since—after opening the 2003 season with a victory.
Baltimore was 63-63 last Aug. 23, but lost 32 of its last 36 games.
“Obviously, we’d like to be over .500,” said bench coach Sam Perlozzo, 2-0 as the Orioles’ acting manager in Mike Hargrove’s absence. “But it’s a little early to be worrying about .500.”
Buddy Groom finished the Orioles’ first shutout since beating Anaheim 3-0 last July 2.
Tampa Bay, which was blanked for the second time this season, has dropped six of seven and finished its road trip 2-7. The Devil Rays have not scored a run in 16 innings.
“The bats the last two days have gone cold,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said.
Helling (1-1) did not allow a runner to reach second base until the eighth inning, walked one and struck out five in the longest outing by an Orioles starter this season.
He was helped out by three double plays, all after leadoff hitters reached base. Notorious for allowing long fly balls and home runs, Helling allowed only four balls to be hit to the outfield.
“Sometimes it works that way,” Helling said. “Believe me, I’m not going to turn into a ground ball pitcher in just one game. When you get a guy on first base with less than two outs, your goal is to get a double play.”
The Orioles took a 2-0 lead off Tampa Bay starter Steve Parris (0-2) in the fourth.
In the sixth, Mora singled with one out and went to third on a single by Brook Fordyce, who was out trying to stretch the hit into a double. Hairston then hit a 1-1 pitch from Parris down the left-field line for a 4-1 lead.
Parris allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out two.
“I kind of hurt us in the sixth inning, giving up the two runs,” Parris said. “Down 4-0 in the seventh instead of 2-0 is a big difference. Two runs isa big difference with three innings left.”
Perlozzo managed the Orioles for a second consecutive day while Hargrove was with his ailing mother. Rita Anna Hargrove underwent surgery Monday in Amarillo, Texas, to remove an infected gallbladder. Mike Hargrove is expected to return to the Orioles by midweek. … Devil Rays OF Carl Crawford went 0-for-4 and is mired in an 0-for-20 slump. … Helling hit two batters with pitches and leads Orioles pitchers with three hit batsmen in four starts. … Helling is 8-3 with a 3.30 earned-run average against the Devil Rays in 11career games.