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Updated: Saturday, April 19, 2003 6:24 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
8 11 0
Baltimore Orioles
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
7 14 0
W Sosa (1-1)
L Lopez (0-3)
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TAMPA BAY 8, BALTIMORE 7
 

BALTIMORE (Ticker) -- Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella promised to buy a steak dinner for the first starter on his team to win a game. But his bullpen nearly gave him a case of indigestion.

Jorge Sosa allowed three hits in five scoreless innings before the Devil Rays held on for an 8-7 victory over the Baltimore Orioles that snapped a four-game losing streak.

Making his first start of the season in place of the injured Jim Parque , Sosa (1-1) scattered three singles with three walks and a strikeout.

"We will get him a nice steak dinner when we get back to the Bay area," Piniella said. "He deserves it, he pitched well. He had a good breaking ball."

"It doesn't matter," Sosa said. "I really don't care. I don't like steak."

Tampa Bay went 17 games without getting a win from a starter, the longest stretch to open a season in 11 years, prompting Piniella to make his promise following Friday's loss.

But he watched his bullpen nearly squander a 7-0 lead as the Orioles scored four times in the ninth. Al Levine gave up pinch hitter Jose Morban 's first major league homer before Lance Carter surrendered run-scoring doubles to Gary Matthews Jr. and B.J. Surhoff and an RBI single to Jeff Conine .

"I wasn't trying to hit a home run," Morban said. "But I am excited and happy that my first big league hit being a home run is exciting."

But Carter struck out Tony Batista and Marty Cordova to finally close out the victory.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Orioles.

"There were a lot of good things on the field," Piniella said. "It did get a little hairy at the end. You can't bring in relievers and put guys on base, you just can't. I look every day at the guys in Triple-A and I see what they're doing and believe me, I won't hesitate bringing one or two up at a moment's notice."

George Lombard , Aubrey Huff and Damian Easley homered for the Devil Rays , who scored four times in the sixth to build a seven-run cushion.

"Well, we got the win as a team," Carter said. "It wasn't pretty, but we got it. All I wanted was a double play grounder. That didn't happen. They found the holes."

Rodrigo Lopez (0-3) took the loss, allowing seven runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He did not lose his third game last season until August.

"I am trying to do my best," said Lopez, whose ERA climbed to 7.66. "I am trying to make adjustments, but I have not been making quality pitches at the right time. I hope I can work on that."

Lombard, recalled from Class AAA Durham before the game, wasted no time contributing, belting a solo homer on the second pitch he saw in the top of the first. Huff's two-run shot made it 3-0 in the third.

The Devil Rays appeared to put away the game in the sixth. After loading the bases with one out, they knocked out Lopez without getting the ball out of the infield.

Lopez tried to field Easley's comebacker, but the ball deflected off his hand for a run-scoring infield hit. Marlon Anderson slapped a grounder to the right side, but Lopez was late covering first, bringing in another run.

"He had a mental lapse not covering first base," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "You can't give a big league team more than three outs. Tampa scored four runs in the sixth inning and we gave them three extra outs. We just can't do that."

Javier Valentin smacked reliever Willis Roberts ' first pitch into right field for a two-run single that made it 7-0.

But the Orioles began their comeback on Surhoff's two-run homer in the sixth off Travis Harper , who also gave up a sacrifice fly to Surhoff in the seventh.

Roberts surrendered a solo homer to Easley in the eighth that extended the Devil Rays ' lead to 8-3.


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