Devil Rays 3, Orioles 1

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BALTIMORE (AP)—Eager to halt a three-game skid that dropped them back below the .500 mark, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays turned to Mark Hendrickson to make things right.

As usual, Hendrickson delivered.

Hendrickson pitched eight shutout innings, and the Devil Rays snapped their losing streak by beating the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 Tuesday night.

Rocco Baldelli had four hits and an RBI for the Devil Rays, who ended their longest skid since a five-game drought in mid-May.

Hendrickson (6-6) allowed six hits, struck out two and walked one. The left-hander previously helped Tampa Bay stop losing streaks of six games and seven games.

“Having a pitcher perform like that picks the whole team up,” Baldelli said. “He really shut them down completely.”

In effectively rebounding from two straight poor outings in which he was 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA, Hendrickson allowed only two runners to reach third base.

“I was a little upset with my last couple of outings,” he said. “My mind-set is for the team to know they’re going to have a chance to win when I’m out there.”

The victory, which followed the Devil Rays’ doubleheader loss to Baltimore on Monday, means Tampa Bay (41-41) can avoid losing its first series in 11 since May 28-30 with a win on Wednesday night.

Hendrickson threw 102 pitches and got within three outs of his second career complete game before manager Lou Piniella called for closer Danys Baez.

“It was a good outing,” Hendrickson said. “I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t go back out for the ninth, but I understood where Lou was coming from.”

Baez allowed Luis Lopez’s RBI single in the ninth to spoil the shutout, but retired Brian Roberts on a foul pop to third with the bases loaded to end it and earn his 17th save in 19 chances.

Baltimore went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Rafael Palmeiro went 0-for-2 in that situation, and his 0-for-4 night left him 17-for-98 (.173) over his last 26 games.

“I’m trying to figure out why I’m struggling against lefties, which I never have,” he said. “I feel fine, I feel good. I’m sure a lot of it’s mental.”

Palmeiro, signed as a free agent during the offseason, brought a .291 lifetime batting average to Baltimore. But now he’s at .242 through 81 games.

“Right now he’s struggling. He knows that,” Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. “He’s done it before, and he’ll get out of it. I’m sure it’s not the first time in his career he’s hit a bump in the road.”

Asked if it was only a matter of time before he starts hitting again, Palmeiro said, “I’m tired of waiting.”

Tampa Bay got a run in the third against Rodrigo Lopez (6-5) when Geoff Blum hit a leadoff double and scored on a single by Baldelli.

The Devil Rays made it 3-0 in the fourth. After Julio Lugo singled and Fred McGriff walked, Toby Hall singled in a run and Carl Crawford hit a run-scoring groundout.

Lopez hit a one-out double in the fifth before Hendrickson retired Tim Raines Jr. and Roberts on grounders.

In the sixth, Hendrickson gave up successive one-out singles to MiguelTejada and Javy Lopez before Palmeiro hit a popup and Luis Matos grounded out.

Notes

Baltimore fell to 9-17 in games started by left-handers. … Baldelli has a hit in nine straight games and 14 of 16. … Hendrickson has won his last four starts on the road. … Hall is batting a club-high .409 with runners in scoring position. … The Orioles have 19 wins at home, tied with Seattle andKansas City for fewest in the AL.

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