ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Sammy Sosa hit his 575th career homer and Larry Bigbie snapped an eighth-inning tie with a RBI single, helping the Baltimore Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-6 Tuesday night.
Sosa’s solo shot off Scott Kazmir in the third inning was greeted by polite applause from a small crowd of 10,563, which included hundreds who arrived early to watch the former Chicago Cubs star take batting practice for the first time at Tropicana Field.
After narrowly missing down the right field line in his first at-bat, Sosa delivered his first American League homer since Sept. 8, 1991, on a 2-2 pitch from Kazmir, the 347th pitcher to surrender a home run to the 36-year-old slugger.
Sosa, who has homered in 41 different major league parks, had last connected in the AL off Kevin Brown, while playing for the Chicago White Sox at Texas. It was the 29th of his career, and the last he hit before moving to the Cubs in 1992.
The Orioles star entered the game hitting just .200 (5-for-25) in six games. He tripled and scored a run in the fifth, and finished 2-for-4.
Brian Roberts also homered. The two-run shot off Kazmir put Baltimore ahead 4-3 in the fourth inning and gave the Orioles’ leadoff man four in his first 28 at-bats. He had four in 641 at-bats all of last year.
Bigbie’s eighth-inning single off Casey Fossum (0-1) broke a 5-all tie. The Orioles added another run, making it 7-5, when Roberts grounded into a force play.
B.J. Ryan got the last four outs for Baltimore, earning his first save after giving up a triple and walk to begin the ninth. The left-hander struck out Travis Lee and Jorge Cantu before retiring pinch-hitter Eduardo Perez on a routine fly to left to end the game.
Todd Williams (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings in relief.
The Devil Rays also scored twice off Baltimore starter Daniel Cabrera in the fourth when Carl Crawford’s long flyball with the bases loaded glanced off Luis Matos’ glove for an error as the Orioles center fielder crossed in front of Sosa, who was positioned to make the catch in deep right-center.
Two runs scored on the play, giving the Devil Rays a short-lived 5-4 lead.
Sosa opened the Baltimore fifth with a triple that bounced over Gathright’s head in center field and rolled to the wall. He trotted home, making it 5-5, on Javy Lopez’s sacrifice fly.
Kazmir allowed five runs—four earned—in five innings. The 21-year-old left-hander walked three and struck out two.
Cabrera also gave up five runs—four earned—in five innings. He walked three and struck out five.
Sosa’s 44th career triple was his first since 2002. … Rafael Palmeiro singled for his 2,929th hit, moving within one of Rogers Hrnsby for 31st baseball’s all-time list. … Devil Rays OF Alex Sanchez, serving a 10-day suspension for violating baseball’s new policy on performance-enhancing drugs, worked out with teammates before the game. He’s eligible to be activated on Thursday.