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Matt Garza leads Tampa Bay Rays to 4-1 victory over Baltimore Orioles

BALTIMORE — Friday was about getting even.

Matt Garza felt he did, getting the payback he so publicly sought for his last outing against the Orioles by pitching the Rays to a 4-1 victory. And then Baltimore designated hitter Luke Scott said Garza would eventually get his own in a different form for being so outspoken.

There also was historic even-ing. The Rays matched the franchise record for road wins in a season, at 40, and manager Joe Maddon squared his career record with the Rays at 391-391, his first time back to .500 since the first month of his first season.

Of more current relevance, the American League East race remained the same. The Rays (83-51) still are 1½ games behind the Yankees. They did increase their wild-card lead to seven games over the Red Sox, who were rained out Friday and have a day-night doubleheader with the White Sox today.

Garza talked big going into the game, saying he'd make the Orioles, who hit four homers against him July 20, "feel really uncomfortable in the box" and "shove it down" their throats.

And then he went about it in just about the totally opposite way you'd expect: quietly, professionally — no knockdowns, no confrontations, no issues — and even with a little chicanery, deviating from his usual fastball-heavy game plan to frustrate and foil the Orioles with his changeup and other off-speed pitches, working into the sixth and allowing only five hits and the one run to improve to 14-7.

"That was a mental game right there, and I won it," Garza said. "They were so geared up to hit that fastball that they totally forgot the other side of the plate. … So they were uncomfortable. Task completed."

The Orioles had taken notice of Garza's comments and, at least in Scott's case, some issue.

"He said what he said, and he backed it up. He did a good job for his team, but don't let it bite you in the butt," Scott said. "If you let your head get big in anything in life … it's Proverbs 3:34: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Your time is coming if you think that life is going to be like that. Your time is coming, and it's not going to be fun."

Garza insisted he meant "no disrespect" with his comments about the Orioles, and Maddon suggested it was more talk than action: "There's a little bit of hyperbole involved in his words sometimes."

Actually, Maddon was on the other end of it when he took Garza out in the sixth inning — given that he had thrown 98 pitches on a sweltering night (89 degrees at first pitch) unaffected by Hurricane Earl — and Garza flippantly voiced his displeasure. When Maddon got back to the dugout, he had his say.

"There was something he had said walking off the mound, and I didn't appreciate it," Maddon said, "So we reviewed it when I got to the dugout."

Said Garza: "He was just explaining the situation and let me know what was going on."

Garza had some help, of course. Reid Brignac, improving his career average at Camden Yards to .481 (13-for-27) figured in both of their rallies. And Rafael Soriano capped another strong night for the bullpen with his major-league leading 41st save, matching Danys Baez (2005) for second most in franchise history, two off Roberto Hernandez's 1999 team record.

And Garza's other accomplishment of the night?

He evened his career record at 41-41.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Rays 4

Orioles 1

Matt Garza leads Tampa Bay Rays to 4-1 victory over Baltimore Orioles 09/04/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 4, 2010 1:45am]
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