Orioles 4, Devil Rays 0

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BALTIMORE (AP)—To measure Daniel Cabrera’s progress from early in the season, one need only compare two of his starts against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

On April 12, the Baltimore Orioles right-hander walked nine and threw 117 pitches in five innings.

On Friday night, Cabrera pitched seven innings of five-hit ball and walked only three to help the Orioles hand the Devil Rays their eighth straight road loss, 4-0.

“It’s just a matter of him pitching with confidence, and that’s what he’s doing right now,” Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said. “He really looks focused to me.”

Cabrera (7-8) struck out seven, walked three and allowed only one runner past second base in a 103-pitch masterpiece. He has thrown 16 straight scoreless innings, including a five-hit shutout of Toronto on Saturday.

“I feel great. I’ve never had 16 scoreless innings before,” he said.

Cabrera is 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA since returning from the minors on Aug. 8. He yielded just one run in the three wins.

“He’s always been the kind of kid that, even when he’s struggling, every time he goes to the mound you feel like he’s going to have one of those games because his stuff is so good,” Perlozzo said. “Since he’s been back it’s just been more often.”

If the Devil Rays were expecting to see the old Cabrera—the one who still leads the AL with 86 walks—they were extremely disappointed.

“It seemed like he was throwing strikes,” said leadoff hitter Rocco Baldelli, who had two hits. “The word was for a while he wasn’t, but he’s got his game together. Hopefully you let him beat himself, but tonight he was on.”

Chris Ray got the final five outs for his 30th save in 32 chances, and Ramon Hernandez drove in a run and scored twice for the Orioles, who have won six of nine.

The Devil Rays, 1-16 on the road since the All-Star break, went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.

“We left a lot of guys on tonight. I guess that was the story of the game,” Baldelli said.

Or was it Cabrera?

“I just thought he was under control tonight,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said, “primarily throwing strikes down in the zone really well.”

Making his third major league start—the first since April—Tampa Bay’s Jason Hammel (0-2) allowed two runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. It was a vast improvement over his debut on April 11, when he gave up seven runs in just over three innings in a loss to Baltimore.

The Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the fifth. Kevin Millar walked and Hernandez doubled before Brian Roberts hit a run-scoring grounder. Hernandez then took third on a single by Nick Markakis and scored on a sacrifice fly by Melvin Mora.

Baltimore added a run against Jon Switzer in the seventh. Millar led off with a double and took third on a single by Hernandez. Running for Millar, pinch-runner Brandon Fahey was retired in a rundown while Hernandez took third on a grounder by Roberts, and Nick Markakis followed with a sacrifice fly.

In the Baltimore eighth, Corey Patterson doubled and scored on a throwing error by catcher Dioner Navarro.

Both teams wasted scoring opportunities in the early going.

After Tampa Bay got the first two runners on in the first inning, Cabrera got Carl Crawford to hit a fly ball before striking out Greg Norton and Navarro.

Baltimore loaded the bases with two outs in the second, but Hernandez hit into a fielder’s choice. Tampa Bay put runners on the corners with one out in the third before Cabrera struck out Crawford and retired Norton on a fly ball.

Notes

After the game, Tampa Bay put LHP Scott Kazmir on 15-day disabled list (tightness in his left shoulder) and recalled LHP J.P. Howell from Triple-A Durham. … Tampa Bay 1B Kevin Witt received his first major league start since 2003, when he played for Detroit. He went 0-for-4. … Baltimore’s Miguel Tejada went 0-for-4, ending his 12-game hitting streak. … Baldelli is 5-for-10 lifetime against Cabrera.

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