Devil Rays 9, Orioles 8

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BALTIMORE (AP)—Not only are the Tampa Bay Devil Rays playing better in their first year under manager Lou Piniella, they’re also making a mark in the team record book.

Aubrey Huff doubled in the tiebreaking run in the ninth inning and Travis Lee went 4-for-5 with three RBIs as the Devil Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-8 Sunday.

By taking two of three from Baltimore, the Devil Rays have won three straight road series for the first time in club history. It’s also the first time Tampa Bay has won three straight series since 2001.

“Right now we’re playing very respectable baseball and I’m pleased with that,” Piniella said.

The Devil Rays are still in last place, but they’re only a game behind the Orioles after rallying from behind with six runs over the final three innings.

“It’s good to see these kids come back and battle the way they did,” Piniella said. “It’s heartening for a manager and coaching staff, and should be heartening for our fans.”

Jeff Conine, Deivi Cruz and Melvin Mora homered for the Orioles, who have lost seven of eight. Baltimore was betrayed by a bullpen that yielded a total of five runs in the eighth and ninth.

“We’ve pitched better than that. I’ll leave it at that,” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. “Baseball is a game of cycles, and right now some of our guys are struggling.”

The Devil Rays snapped a tie with a two-run ninth against Jorge Julio (0-2). Rocco Baldelli hit a one-out single before Huff doubled to center, and Lee followed with an RBI single to right.

Huff had a triple, two doubles and scored three runs.

Mora homered in the ninth against Lance Carter (4-1).

Tampa Bay trailed 5-3 before Julio Lugo homered on an 0-2 pitch from Omar Daal in the seventh. The Devil Rays then took the lead with a three-run eighth against three Baltimore relievers.

With one out, Huff hit a drive to right against Buddy Groom that hit the roof of the grounds crew shed—a home run by rule. But the umpires called the ball in play, and Huff was given a triple.

“I saw the replay, and it was a bad call,” Huff said. “It could have changed the whole complexion of the ballgame. It was just something he missed, but fortunately we came out on top.”

Lee then hit a bloop single past the drawn-up infield, and after Groom walked Jared Sandberg, pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson doubled against Julio for a 7-5 lead.

“Julio was up with everything today,” Hargrove said. “He threw it in the middle of the plate, waist high. That’s not a good combination.”

The Orioles tied it in the bottom half with two unearned runs after catcher Toby Hall dropped a foul pop. Geronimo Gil singled in a run and pinch-hitter Larry Bigbie hit a sacrifice fly.

Daal retired the first 11 batters before Baldelli hit a two-out triple in the fourth. Huff then hit a bouncer down the line that first-base umpire Randy Marsh ruled foul, but after Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella argued, the call was reversed and Huff was given an RBI double.

Lee then doubled in a run and Hall hit an RBI single to make it 3-0.

The Orioles pulled even against Joe Kennedy in the bottom half. Conine led off with a home run, Gil hit a two-out single and Cruz homered. The two homers matched the number that Kennedy allowed in his previous 37 innings.

The Orioles took a 5-3 lead in the fifth. After Mora hit a one-out single and David Segui reached on an error by second baseman Terry Shumpert, Coninehit an RBI single and Tony Batista doubled in a run.


The Orioles optioned 3b Jose Leon to Triple-A Ottawa after the game. The team will probably activate B.J. Surhoff (hamstring) from the 15-day disabled list on Monday. … Tampa Bay hitting coach Lee Elia was ejected by plate umpire Angel Hernandez for arguing balls and strikes in the fourth inning. … Conine went 3-for-3 against Kennedy and now is 8-for-11 lifetime against the left-hander. … After playing each other 13 times in a 40-day span, the Orioles and Devil Rays don’t meet again until Aug. 11. … TampaBay’s Damion Easley ended an 0-for-20 skid with an infield hit in the fifth.

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