BALTIMORE (AP)—As he watched the ball soar over the center-field wall, Aubrey Huff wasn’t thinking about how nice it was to beat his former team.
That pleasure came later, soon after he was mugged at the plate.
After James Shields pitched nine brilliant innings for Tampa Bay, Brian Stokes (1-4) faced only two batters before giving up the game’s lone run. Ramon Hernandez flied out before Huff hit a 1-1 pitch for his fourth homer—the second against the Devil Rays.
“The ball hasn’t been really carrying much here this year,” he said. “I was hoping I got enough.”
Huff played for five seasons in Tampa Bay and briefly with Houston last year before signing with Baltimore as a free agent in January.
Asked if he derived a measure of satisfaction from beating the Devil Rays, Huff said, “I honestly didn’t know who I was playing when I saw the ball go over the fence. But I guess it’s a little bit of bragging rights against some of the guys over there.”
Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon expressed no hard feelings toward Huff, Tampa Bay’s career leader in games, hits, homers and RBIs.
“Good for him,” Maddon said. “That’s what he’s supposed to do. If you make a mistake, he’s supposed to hit it hard. It’s just one of those things. He’s an Oriole now. We just lost to the Orioles.”
Upon scoring the winning run, Huff was pounded unmercifully by his teammates.
“It’s a good feeling, a good pain,” he said.
Stokes, a rookie, said of his ill-fated fastball: “I was going to pitch away from him, and if he was going to beat me he was going to beat me away. He beat me away.”
By beating Tampa Bay for a second straight night, the Orioles clinched their first series win since a sweep of Toronto on April 21-23.
Shields failed to earn a win in his longest career outing. The right-hander allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four in becoming the first Devil Ray to go nine innings on the road since Mark Hendrickson in April 2006.
“I was feeling pretty good. For the most part until those last couple innings I had some good fastballs,” Shields said. “I stayed in the ballgame as long as I could.”
Not long enough for the Devil Rays, who stranded 11 runners.
“Those things happen. All I can do is keep our team in the game as long as I can and hope for the best,” Shields said. “Unfortunately, it did not work out today.”
The only Baltimore batter to reach over the first five innings was Huff, who singled with one out in the second. Shields then retired 11 straight batters before issuing a leadoff walk to Jay Gibbons in the sixth.
Baltimore starter Erik Bedard struck out 10 in seven innings to take over the AL lead in strikeouts with 56. The left-hander allowed three hits, walked three and did not allow a runner past second base.
After throwing 97 pitches, Bedard was replaced by Danys Baez, who hit Baldelli with a pitch to start the eighth before getting three straight outs.
Chris Ray worked out of trouble after giving up a one-out double to Young in the ninth.
Bedard allowed a first-inning double to Carl Crawford and two singles to Jorge Cantu through the opening five innings. In the sixth, Bedard walked Elijah Dukes and Crawford with one out before striking out Wigginton and retiring Upton on a fielder’s choice.
The Devil Rays have yet to steal a base in May after swiping a major league-high 28 in April. … Baltimore started the night with 144 runs scored and 144 allowed.