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Solid pitching, rotten luck: It's the same story for Arrojo

Rays blow several chances against Orioles ace Mike Mussina in a 4-2 loss.

Rolando Arrojo had another solid outing Wednesday night. You can tell, because the Devil Rays lost.

Continuing his rebound from a disappointing first half, Arrojo gave the Rays six strong innings. Continuing their lack of support for Arrojo, the Rays gave him little in return.

Tampa Bay lost to Baltimore 4-2 before an announced 17,824.

"We haven't scored a lot of runs for him," manager Larry Rothschild said. "All he can do is keep on going. That's something that's out of your control."

Arrojo said as much. Or as little. Asked if it were frustrating to not have a win for his recent efforts, Arrojo smiled slightly and shrugged.

"I don't bat," he said through an interpreter.

Neither do most of the Rays when he is pitching. Arrojo has given up three runs or fewer in five of his past six starts, yet is 0-3 with a 3.75 ERA. The Rays have scored three runs or fewer in five of those games.

The Rays could have moved into a fourth-place tie with the Orioles by sweeping the three-game series, but instead they dropped four games behind and firmly established their hold on last place with consecutive losses.

"I want to win," Arrojo said, "but we can't."

Arrojo dropped to 2-8, although he has lowered his ERA from 7.31 to 5.79 over the past month.

Along with failing to produce much offense, Arrojo's teammates failed him on defense in the third.

After leadoff hitter Delino DeShields grounded out, B.J. Surhoff hit a drive to deep left-center. The ball could have been caught either by leftfielder Bubba Trammell or centerfielder Dave Martinez, but it dropped between them for a double.

"I thought I heard Davey calling for it, but obviously he didn't," Trammell said. "That shouldn't have happened."

Consecutive singles by Albert Belle and Harold Baines drove in the game's first run.

Though Arrojo had reason to gripe about the defense in the third, Baltimore's runs in the fifth were his own doing.

Surhoff led off the fifth with a home run to right-center, the first time he'd gone deep in 24 games. Belle followed with a home run down the leftfield line for a 3-0 lead.

Baltimore starter Mike Mussina was not particularly sharp, but five-time All-Stars tend not to blow three-run leads.

"Like a lot of good pitchers, you better get him early," Rothschild said. "We had chances and we let him off the hook. Once he settles in and establishes all his pitches, he's going to be tough."

To get an idea of how the night went for Tampa Bay, the offensive highlight through seven innings was a run-scoring fielder's choice by Wade Boggs.

Not that the Rays didn't have opportunities. Tampa Bay had runners in scoring position in four of the first six innings but did little to get them home. The Rays were 2-for-9 with runners on second or third, with John Flaherty accounting for both hits.

"He's tough, one of the best pitchers in the game," Boggs said. "When he gets the lead, he's tough to score on. We had a couple of innings with runners on first and second and bases loaded and he got out of it. That's what makes him a great pitcher."

Of all the semi-threats, the most promising was in the sixth when one-out singles by Trammell, Fred McGriff and Flaherty loaded the bases.

Boggs, who singled and doubled in his first two at-bats to raise his career hit total to 3,003, hit a grounder to first to drive in the run. The rally ended when Jose Guillen was called out on strikes.

"To get (Boggs) to make an out with the run scoring, that was pretty big," Mussina said. "The first two innings were pretty crucial, too _ a couple of guys on both innings and I was able to get out of it."

No-luck Arrojo

The Devil Rays have had a chance to win every game Rolando Arrojo has pitched since coming off the DL.

Date Opp IP ER Dec Final

7/15 Mets 5 0 N/D L, 3-2

7/20 Phillies 5.1 4 N/D W, 5-4

7/25 Rangers 7 3 L L, 4-3

7/31 Athletics 7 3 L L, 5-1

8/6 Indians 5.2 2 N/D W, 4-2

8/11 Orioles 6 3 L L, 4-2