Devil Rays 4, Orioles 3

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—The Tampa Bay Devil Rays may not win all that often. When they do, it’s usually in exciting fashion.

Pinch-hitter Jared Sandberg doubled home the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Devil Rays over the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 Monday night.

It was the Devil Rays’ third walk-off victory in the past seven games.

“We make a lot of them exciting,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “We have confidence that we can come back.”

“You don’t want to get yourself in a position where you’re coming from behind all the time,” he said. “ My preference would be to get a two or three run lead and just hold it.”

Tampa Bay, with the AL’s second-worst record at 46-71, has gone 14-11 since the All-Star break.

Julio Lugo singled with one out off Hector Carrasco (1-3) and B.J. Ryan relieved. After Carl Crawford popped out, Sandberg doubled into the left-center gap for the victory.

“My first walk-off hit,” Sandberg said. “I’ve never had one, including minor leagues. He blew two fastballs by me, so nothing I can do but try and put the ball in play and find a gap.”

Sandberg is 2-for-4 was a pinch-hitter this season. He entered with just four hits in 18 at-bats—including eight strikeouts—since being called up for the second time this season from Triple-A Durham on July 30.

“This definitely helps the confidence,” Sandberg said.

Travis Harper (2-6) worked two scoreless innings.

Tampa Bay tied it at 3 when Travis Lee hit a two-run, two-out homer off reliever Eric DuBose in the eighth. Lee has 14 RBIs in his past 14 games.

“You never feel comfortable (with a lead),” Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said.

Baltimore’s Brook Fordyce homered and drove in two runs. Pat Hentgen gave up one run and six hits over six innings.

“Pat really had to battle,” Hargrove said. “He wasn’t at the top of his game. He gave us a chance to win.”

In his last five starts, Hentgen is 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA.

Fordyce had an RBI single in two-run first and hit a sixth-inning solo homer. He has driven in a run in four straight games.

Crawford also homered for the Devil Rays.

Joe Kennedy gave up three runs and five hits over seven innings. The Devil Rays’ opening day starter has struggled since returning from a left shoulder injury on July 9.

In his previous six starts, Kennedy was 0-4 with a 7.85 ERA.

“I like what I saw,” Piniella said. “He pitched well. I told him he made a lot of good pitches. He changed speeds as well as I’ve seen him change speeds this year.”

Tampa Bay fell behind in the first inning for the second straight game when the Orioles scored twice.

The first run scored when Kennedy hit his second batter of the inning, Tony Batista, with a pitch. Fordyce made it 2-0 with an RBI single.

Kennedy avoided further damage by inducing an inning-ending double play from Jose Leon with the bases loaded.

The Devil Rays loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom half, but failed to score when Damian Rolls flied out.

Crawford’s solo homer in the third got Tampa Bay within 2-1.

Fordyce put the Orioles up 3-1 on his fourth homer of the season.

Notes

After the game, Baltimore optioned INF Carlos Mendez to Triple-A Ottawa and recalled RHP Rick Bauer from Ottawa. … Orioles 1B-OF Jeff Conine (sore right biceps), who missed his third straight game, was examined in Baltimore. Hargrove said the injury is not considered serious. … The Devil Rays have played a major league-leading 66 games decided by two or fewer runs, going 32-34. … Tampa Bay recalled OF Jason Tyner from Triple-A Durham. He started in right field. … Baltimore RF Jay Gibbons extended his career-high hittingstreak to 15 games with a third-inning single.

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