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Updated: Sunday, May 18, 2003 8:16 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
9 16 2
Baltimore Orioles
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
8 14 0
W Carter (4-1)
L Julio (0-2)
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TAMPA BAY 9, BALTIMORE 8
 

BALTIMORE (Ticker) -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays rode the hot hitting of Aubrey Huff and Travis Lee to a franchise-record third straight road series win.

Huff had three extra-base hits and drove in two runs and Lee added four hits and three RBI as the Devil Rays battled to a 9-8 victory over the Baltimore Orioles .

After regaining the lead with three runs in the eighth inning, Tampa Bay squandered it in the bottom of the frame. But after rookie Rocco Baldelli singled with one out in the ninth against Baltimore closer Jorge Julio , Huff hit his American League-leading 28th extra-base hit - a double to left-center - to give the Devil Rays an 8-7 advantage.

"I used to be a double-up-the-gap guy," Huff said. "But I have learned a thing or two about driving the ball since I've been up here."

Lee followed with an RBI single to right for Tampa Bay, which claimed its third consecutive road series win and third staight series overall for the first time since 2001.

"I'm feeling fine at the plate," Lee said. "What is happening with us is fun to be part of. We think win when we go on the field. ... We keep battling no matter what."

"The rest of the schedule will tell (the future)," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "This is only the middle of May. I don't look too far ahead. I stay in the present. But we are playing respectable baseball. I am happy with that."

Lance Carter (4-1) got the win despite serving up a leadoff home run to Melvin Mora in the ninth.

Julio (0-2) took the loss, allowing two runs and five hits in 1 1/3 innings.

"For the past two or three years, games like those have been ours," Baltimore managear Mike Hargrove said. "Baseball is a game of cycles. Right now, our guys are struggling. Julio was up with everything. Today, he was right down the middle of the plate waist high. That is not a good combination."

Huff and Lee teamed up to give the Devil Rays the lead in the fourth inning, belting back-to-back RBI doubles off Baltimore starter Omar Daal . Toby Hall followed with a run-scoring single, giving Tampa Bay a 3-0 cushion.

The Orioles drew even in the bottom of the inning on a solo home run by Jeff Conine and a two-run blast by Deivi Cruz . Conine snapped the tie with a single in the fifth before Tony Batista doubled to score David Segui and give Baltimore a 5-3 advantage.

Playing in his second game with the Devil Rays after being signed on Thursday, Julio Lugo made it a one-run contest with a solo homer in the seventh.

Huff began an eighth-inning rally with a shot off reliever Buddy Groom that appeared to be a home run, hitting the bullpen roof in right-center field. But the umpires ruled the ball was in play, limiting Huff to a triple.

"It was a home run," Piniella said. "The home run hit the flat of the roof. The umpire said it hit the padding. I said, 'There must be fiberglass in the padding the way it bounced.'"

Lee made the ruling moot, stroking a single to left to plate Huff and even the game. Pinch hitter Marlon Anderson greeted Julio with a two-run double later in the inning to put Tampa Bay ahead by two.

"I saw the replay," Huff said. "(The umpire) missed it. It could have changed the complexion of the game if Travis did not drive me in."

Geronimo Gil and Larry Bigbie drove in runs in the bottom of the frame to forge a 7-7 deadlock.

"It was an exciting game, to say the least," Piniella said. "We get the lead, they tie it. They go ahead, we rally, we tie it, we finally hold on. Now we can enjoy our day off in Texas."


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