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Rays keep O's 0-for-'99 at Tropicana Field

Published Sep. 29, 2005

Tampa Bay pounds out 15 hits and gets good pitching in key moments to earn a 10-9 win, its fourth home triumph against Baltimore.

Some people don't like the team name or the funny logo. Others detest the quirkiness of Tropicana Field.

The Baltimore Orioles? They probably wish they had never seen or heard of the Devil Rays.

The Rays beat the Orioles 10-9 on Monday, extending what may be the only pattern of success in their short history. The Rays are 6-1 against the Orioles this season, including 4-0 at the Trop, and 13-6 over two seasons.

Adding to it, the Rays battered Jason Johnson _ the pitcher whom they traded to the Orioles in March _ for nine runs in fewer than five innings.

On a night when 3,001-hit man Wade Boggs rested, the rest of the Rays put on their own highlights show before an announced crowd of 17,796, rapping 15 hits, two short of their season high.

It was a good thing, because the Tampa Bay pitching staff turned what looked like a 10-3 snoozer into a tense thriller.

"We had a big lead, and at the end of the game we didn't have a big lead anymore," catcher John Flaherty said.

The Orioles had pulled within two and had the bases loaded in the eighth when Esteban Yan came out of the bullpen to strike out Jeff Conine on a 2-and-2 pitch.

Baltimore cut the lead to 10-9 in the ninth off closer Roberto Hernandez, but with help from first-base umpire John Hirschbeck.

Will Clark doubled with one out and Charles Johnson singled hard off shortstop Aaron Ledesma's glove. The Rays thought they had the game won when Ledesma fielded Brady Anderson's grounder and flipped to Tony Graffanino, who fired to first for what appeared to be a game-ending double play. But Hirschbeck called Anderson safe. Hernandez came back to get his 31st save when centerfielder Terrell Lowery ran down Mike Bordick's fly ball.

Seemingly lost in a tailspin a week ago, the Rays have won four of five and are looking to win back-to-back series for the first time since June

25-July

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"They kept getting leadoff hitters on and that made it tougher and tougher," manager Larry Rothschild said. "It was a game that we had a chance to put away early and not have to go through the bullpen like we did, but as long as we win, that's what counts."

The Rays broke on top in a big way, rapping six consecutive hits to score five in the second, their most productive inning in more than a month.

Paul Sorrento doubled to center with one out, Jose Guillen legged out an infield single and Bobby Smith singled to center for the first run. Guillen scored on a wild pitch.

Ledesma then beat out a grounder to short for an infield single. Lowery slapped a run-scoring single to center and Graffanino scored two more with a double down the leftfield line.

The Orioles quickly cut the lead to 5-3, but Rays hitters stayed on the attack.

They scored one in the third, when Guillen doubled and Smith singled, then tacked on four more in the fifth. Two came on a home run by Sorrento, his second in two days and the Rays' 111th overall, matching their 1998 output. The other two came in on singles by Ledesma and Lowery.

It seemed a surprise at the time that the Rays would trade a 25-year-old talented pitcher such as Johnson, especially for an organization that puts a premium on young pitching.

But Johnson had battled through injuries and inconsistencies and the Rays were excited by the chance to acquire outfielder Danny Clyburn, whom they considered a prime power-hitting prospect, plus rookie-league shortstop Angel Volquez. (Clyburn, after a disappointing two months with the Rays, is hitting .249 with eight homers in Durham. Volquez is hitting .288 at Princeton.)

Plus the Rays had other reasons to make the trade, primarily a stash of other promising young pitchers they thought highly of, such as Rupe.

The 24-year-old rookie went five-plus innings Monday for his sixth win, evening his record and tying for the team lead with six wins. Rupe retired the first six and had allowed four hits and three runs through five, but got into trouble quickly in the sixth, giving up a two-run homer to Harold Baines. Rupe was finished when the next two batters reached on an error by Smith and a walk.

Rupe left with the score 10-5, but the O's came back. They got one in the seventh off Rick White and two in the eighth, with a chance for more when Albie Lopez gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases. But Yan, who seems to have regained his control and effectiveness, whiffed Conine.