ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Rick Bauer came out of the bullpen and threw strikes. The Baltimore offense did the rest.
“It was tremendous,” Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said of Bauer’s performance. “To come in the middle of the game like that down a run, he keeps us in the game all the way. It’s a tough spot to be in that role. He showed me something tonight.”
Bauer (1-0) entered in the fourth with the Orioles trailing 3-2. The only hit he allowed was a broken-bat single by Toby Hall in the sixth.
“I had everything down and I was able to throw a lot of strikes,” said Bauer, who had four strikeouts. “Although we scored a lot of runs, it didn’t seem like I was sitting except for one inning. It seemed like I was out there all the time and I just caught a good groove.”
Javy Lopez, who is hitting .609, and Mora had four hits apiece. Mora hit a two-run homer in the fifth and an RBI single during a four-run sixth. Bigbie had a two-run single in the sixth and an eighth-inning solo homer.
Rafael Palmeiro and Lopez each had two RBIs for the Orioles.
“Tonight we proved that we’ve got a tremendous offense,” Lopez said.
Tampa Bay’s Eduardo Perez hit a two-run homer.
Orioles starter Erik Bedard allowed three runs, six hits, four walks and struck out three in three-plus innings. He threw 91 pitches, including 54 strikes, in his first major league appearance in two years.
Bedard spent the entire 2003 season on the disabled list after undergoing elbow surgery. He entered with just two-thirds of an inning of major league experience, making two relief appearances for the Orioles in April 2002.
“It didn’t seem like he had any tempo in the beginning,” Mazzilli said.
Bedard was recalled from Triple-A Ottawa on Friday night. Bauer was aware of the possibility that he could have been sent to the minors as the corresponding move.
Instead, the Orioles designated outfielder Jack Cust for assignment.
“I wasn’t sweating it, but it was in the back of my head,” Bauer said.
Jeremi Gonzalez (0-2) gave up six runs and nine hits in five-plus innings.
Gonzalez made his first start since allowing five runs and four hits over 4 2-3 innings in the Devil Rays’ 12-1 loss to the New York Yankees on March 31 in Tokyo. He pitched in a minor league spring training game April 4 and has been working in the bullpen on mechanics with pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.
“I’ve got confidence in him,” Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. “We’re going to let him keep working. He’ll come out of it.”
Palmeiro put the Orioles ahead 1-0 with a run-scoring double in the first. He tied it at 2 with a third-inning RBI grounder.
Tampa Bay went up 2-1 in the bottom of the first on Perez’s two-run homer.
Jason Romano gave the Devil Rays a 3-2 lead on an RBI single in the third. The left fielder threw out Miguel Tejada, who tried to score from second, at the plate on Lopez’s single in the top of the inning.
Mora hit a two-run homer in the fifth to put the Orioles ahead 4-3.
Bigbie drove in two with a bases-loaded single off reliever John Halama during the fourth-run sixth that made it 8-3. Mora had a run-scoring single.
Bigbie hit a solo homer and Lopez had a two-run double in the eighth.
“It wasn’t a good night,” Piniella said.
Orioles CF Luis Matos was hit in the helmet by Gonzalez’s pitch in the second. He stayed in the game. … Tejada played in his 600th consecutive game. … Palmeiro moved past Tony Gwynn into 17th place on the career list with 544 doubles. … Bedard made six minor league rehabilitation starts last season, totaling 19 1-3 innings. He pitched 17 2-3 innings in spring training, going 2-0 in five starts. … Devil Rays CF Rocco Baldelli went 0-for-4. He has threehits in 25 at-bats overall.