Devil Rays 9, Orioles 2

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ST. PETERBURG, Fla. (AP)—Scott Kazmir feels like himself again.

The 23-year-old left-hander won his third straight home decision, helping the Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-2 on Saturday night.

Kazmir (8-7) allowed one run and seven hits, with two walks and nine strikeouts over seven innings. Prior to his last four starts, Kazmir had gone winless in 14 home starts, not winning at Tropicana Field since July 3, 2006, when he threw a shutout against the Boston Red Sox.

“This is vintage Kaz,” said Kazmir, jokingly referring to his 2006 season when he was Tampa Bay’s lone All-Star. “There are just minor adjustments that I made to go back to like I was in 2006 and 2005. It’s a good feeling to have, that you can throw the ball wherever you want again.

“It’s nice to win at home again,” Kazmir added. “Everything has felt like it’s come back to me, like I’m pitching like I did in the past, and hopefully I won’t ever have to go into that little phase or slump I did.”

Kazmir has allowed two earned runs over his last four home starts, good for an ERA of 0.69.

“We knew he wasn’t going to go the whole season like he did the first half,” the Devil Rays’ Carl Crawford said. “At some point you know he’s going to start pitching good. He’s been sharp his past few starts.”

Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said Kazmir simplified his mechanics on the mound.

“He’s just pumping strikes with his fastball,” Maddon said. “It’s kind of like what I saw last year. It’s a little bit more simple. … He utilizes his other pitches when he needs to, but he’s easily throwing his fastball when he wants to. It’s a simplified version.”

Carlos Pena hit his 26th homer of the season off Brian Burres (5-5) to put the Devil Rays up 2-0 in the first. Pena is one home run shy of his career-high 27, set with Detroit in 2004.

Delmon Young added three RBIs to help the Devil Rays snap an eight-game losing streak against Baltimore. Tampa Bay has won four of its last six games, but is 9-27 since June 25.

Burres pitched 3 1-3 innings, giving up seven runs and eight hits. The left-hander was coming off a six-inning victory against the New York Yankees in which he gave up one run.

Corey Patterson had an RBI single in the third for the Orioles, who are 13-8 since the All-Star break.

Crawford hit a two-run single during a three-run second to make it 5-0. Young had a run-scoring single in a two-run fourth and drove in two on a double in the sixth to extend the lead to 9-1.

Kazmir got defensive help from Young in the sixth inning when the rookie right fielder threw out Baltimore’s Chris Gomez at home after catching Kevin Millar’s flyball. It was his 10th assist this season.

Tampa Bay improved to 2-9 against Baltimore this season. It was just the second time the Devil Rays had scored nine or more runs in the last 35 games.

“We’ve seen Kazmir before and we played right into his hands tonight,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. “He elevates his fastball and once you chase it a little bit, he climbs the ladder and gets you to chase it even more. It looks like we were trying to catch up on one swing, especially when we got behind, and you can’t do that.”

Notes

Baltimore 3B Melvin Mora (sprained foot) could be activated from the 15-day DL on Sunday. … Devil Rays RHP Jason Hammel (right biceps) had a bullpen session Saturday and should make his next scheduled start Tuesday. … Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer threw out the first pitch. … Tampa Bay has been outscored 154-93 in the first two innings. … Devil Rays 3B Akinori Iwamura extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games.

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