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UP NEXT: ORIOLES

Tonight-Thursday

What's new: The Orioles are playing better (15-13) since interim manager Dave Trembley, a longtime minor-league manager who stresses fundamentals, replaced fired Sam Perlozzo on June 18. The offense is sputtering a bit with SS Miguel Tejada and 3B Melvin Mora on the DL, though it does run a lot. The bullpen is better but still a disappointment (4.81 ERA, 10 losses when leading after seven innings) given their expensive offseason overhaul. The defense is the league's best.

Key stat: Orioles pitchers lead the AL in strikeouts (688, one more than the Rays) and have the lowest opponents batting average (.247) but are seventh with a 4.34 ERA and 10th with 44 wins.

Who's hot: OF Corey Patterson, above, is 18-for-41 (.439) in a 10-game hitting streak.

Who's not: 1B/3B/OF/DH Aubrey Huff is 11-for-64 (.172) since hitting for the cycle June 29.

Connections: Tons of 'em, with ex-Rays Danys Baez, Rob Bell, Chris Gomez, Huff and Steve Trachsel in orange, plus Tampa product Chris Ray. Rays closer Al Reyes is an former Oriole.

Series history: Orioles lead 5-1 this season, 87-69 overall and 47-30 in Baltimore, having swept the past two series there.

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