Orioles 9, Devil Rays 5

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BALTIMORE (AP)—In his first trip to the plate after a 10-game layoff, Jeff Conine fully intended to take the initial pitch from Victor Zambrano.

“Then I saw him throwing a lot of fastballs. I didn’t want to watch something good go by,” Conine said.

Conine lined an RBI double off the wall to give Baltimore a first-inning lead, and the Orioles went on to end an eight-game losing streak by defeating the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8-5 Wednesday night.

Damian Moss earned his first AL win and Jay Gibbons homered and drove in four runs for the Orioles, who cranked up the music in the clubhouse after their first win since Aug. 10.

“It feels good, kind of like a big sigh of relief,” Gibbons said. “Having Niner back in the lineup was huge for us. He set the tone with that first-pitch double.”

The Orioles were 1-9 without Conine, who was sidelined with bursitis in his right arm. He returned to go 2-for-2 with two walks, two RBIs and three runs scored.

“I’m glad I helped out tonight,” Conine said. “Now hopefully we can get some momentum going.”

Larry Bigbie also homered for the Orioles, who were outscored 17-2 in their previous two games. After a 9-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday night, manager Mike Hargrove scolded the team behind closed doors.

He evidently got his message across.

“Everybody came to work today and we played with an attitude. That was good to see,” Hargrove said. “We’ve got one in a row now. The trick is to continue this by going out and winning tomorrow.”

Moss (1-1), obtained in the July 31 trade that sent Sidney Ponson to the San Francisco Giants, allowed three runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. The left-hander pitched well in his first three starts with Baltimore but was victimized by poor offensive support.

That wasn’t a problem this time. Baltimore led 8-0 after four innings and held on to snap its longest skid of the season.

Jared Sandberg and Marlon Anderson homered for the Devil Rays, who outhit Baltimore 13-7.

Zambrano (9-7) struggled with his control before being lifted after 3 2-3 ineffective innings. He gave up eight runs, six earned, four hits, walked six and hit a batter.

“When he’s good, he’s good. And when he isn’t good, well…,” Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. “He struggled today, almost from the first inning on, with his command.”

Baltimore went up 2-0 in the first when Brian Roberts walked on four pitches and scored on Conine’s double. Gibbons followed with an RBI double.

Bigbie led off the second with his fourth home run, and Gibbons hit his 19th homer in the third after Zambrano walked B.J. Surhoff and Conine.

“The stuff was not there. The location wasn’t there,” Zambrano said. “I just didn’t have good location today.”

A throwing error by Tampa Bay shortstop Julio Lugo let in two runs and made it 8-0 in the fourth.

Sandberg and Anderson hit successive homers in the fifth. It was Sandberg’s fifth of the year, the second in two nights.

Moss left after giving up consecutive doubles to Toby Hall and Sandberg in the sixth.

“With that big lead, I started trying to aim the ball instead of pitching,” Moss said. “That’s how you get in trouble.”

A run-scoring grounder by Damian Rolls and a two-out RBI single by Hall made it 8-5 in the seventh, but Conine gave the Orioles some breathing room in theeighth with a sacrifice fly.

Notes

Bigbie stole second base in the third inning, the Orioles’ first steal in 11 games. … Zambrano is 1-4 with a 7.54 ERA in seven career appearances at Camden Yards. … Tampa Bay optioned LHP Jon Switzer to Double-A Orlando to make room for OF Adam Piatt, claimed off waivers from Oakland on Tuesday. Piattstruck out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.

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