Orioles 4, Devil Rays 2

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon thought he might see a pitcher’s duel and it turned out he was right.

Erik Bedard pitched seven strong innings to win his seventh consecutive start and Melvin Mora hit a tiebreaking RBI single during a two-run eighth inning as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Devil Rays 4-2 on Sunday.

Bedard (12-6) gave up two runs and three hits in a tight matchup with All-Star Scott Kazmir.

“I thought both pitchers pitched really well,” Maddon said. “We talked about that before the game. You knew it could happen. Kaz’s slider was very sharp. Bedard’s breaking ball, he could throw it for strikes whenever he wanted to.”

Bedard had nine strikeouts and three walks. The 27-year old left-hander has given up eight runs in 49 innings during his winning streak.

“He pitched great again,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. “I don’t know where we’d be without him. He’s been outstanding.”

Brian Roberts had a one-out double in the eighth off reliever Jon Switzer (1-1). Mora snapped a 2-all tie with his single off Edwin Jackson. Jeff Conine extended the lead to two later in the inning with a run-scoring single.

Chris Ray pitched the final two innings for his 24th save.

The 22-year-old Kazmir allowed two runs, seven hits, one walk and struck out 10 in seven innings. The left-hander is 0-2 in his last three starts, allowing nine runs in 19 1-3 innings.

“Bedard threw a good game,” Kazmir said. “Had all of this stuff working. I just wanted to keep the team in the game. I knew we’d been battling throughout the whole thing. I felt like I made some good pitches in some tight situations, so I’ll take all the good things out of this.”

Kazmir has struck out 10 or more seven times in his career, including four this season. Tampa Bay pitchers overall have only 14 all-time 10 or more strikeout games.

Bedard was scratched from his scheduled start Friday because of food poisoning. He allowed two base runners—both on walks—through four innings.

“Early going I felt a little weak,” Bedard said. “But as the game went on, I felt stronger. I just tried not to overthrow, and throw strikes.”

Travis Lee walked to open the fifth, advanced to second on Bedard’s wild pitch and scored on the Devil Rays’ first hit, a two-out double by Tomas Perez that got Tampa Bay within 2-1. Jorge Cantu’s sixth-inning run-scoring triple tied it at 2.

“He kept us off balanced for the most part,” Tampa Bay right fielder Damon Hollins said. “He’s been pitching well and today was no exception.”

Javy Lopez put the Orioles ahead 1-0 on a third-inning homer. Ramon Hernandez made it 2-0 on an RBI double in the fourth.

Tampa Bay had a combined 27 runs and 32 hits in winning the first two games of the series. The Orioles recorded 19 runs and 30 hits over the stretch.

“If Erik would have struggled early, I would have worried about how the team would have responded,” Perlozzo said. “Thank goodness he came out and pitched well, and we were able to get on top. I thought that was the key to the morale of the club.”

Notes

Devil Rays SS Julio Lugo, who could be traded before the non-waiver deadline July 31, was out of the starting lineup. He was also taken out of Saturday night’s game after hitting two homers in the fifth inning. “It’s just a day off,” Maddon said. “He’s been gettng after it real hard so I’m giving the day.” … The Orioles (45-55) improved to 10-24 in games when the opponent starts a left-hander.

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