Baltimore 5, Tampa Bay 4

BALTIMORE (AP) -- With every start, Rodrigo Lopez is putting more
distance between himself and the Baltimore Orioles' bullpen.

Lopez turned in his second straight solid performance and Rafael
Palmeiro and Javy Lopez both had two hits and scored twice, leading
the Orioles past the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5-4 Sunday.

B.J. Surhoff drove in two runs for the Orioles, who had lost
four in a row since Lopez beat Boston on Monday.

Lopez began the season in the bullpen, where he went 3-1 with a
0.33 ERA. After being moved to the rotation on May 20, the
right-hander went 0-1 with a 10.24 ERA in his first two starts.

But he has since won two in a row, allowing only four runs over
11 2-3 innings.

"It was tough for him when he began starting, because all year
he was throwing one inning, two innings, maybe three," Palmeiro
said. "I think he's over the hump now, and I expect him to pitch
like that all the time."

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli is beginning to feel the same way.

"If he keeps going like this, it's encouraging," Mazzilli
said. "Every time you throw him out there, you know you have a

Lopez (5-2) gave up three runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings, but
left with a 5-3 lead.

"If I keep my team in the game, I know they can score some
runs," said Lopez, who has made no secret of his desire to remain
in the rotation. "I think I've proven what I can do as a

After being reminded that the Baltimore bullpen has struggled
since his departure, Lopez smiled sheepishly and said, "That's not
my fault."

Jorge Julio, the fourth Baltimore pitcher, worked the ninth for
his ninth save. He allowed a sacrifice fly to Rocco Baldelli before
retiring Tino Martinez with two outs and runners on the corners.

Baldelli homered for the Devil Rays, Rey Sanchez had two hits
and an RBI, and Aubrey Huff had two hits to extend his hitting
streak to 14 games -- three short of his career high.

Tampa Bay, which went 3-1 in Minnesota and 1-1 in Baltimore,
needed a victory Sunday to complete what would have been the most
successful road trip in franchise history.

Manager Lou Piniella was content with 4-2, the Devil Rays' best
trip since their franchise-record 5-2 excursion in August 1999.

"We played good the whole trip," Piniella said. "If we can
win four out of six the rest of the year, they don't have to keep

Baltimore went up 4-3 with a three-run fourth. Palmeiro singled
and Lopez doubled before Surhoff hit a run-scoring grounder. Luis
Matos then got an infield single, Larry Bigbie hit a sacrifice fly
and Brian Roberts drove in a run with a ground-rule double.

The Devil Rays argued that Matos was out at first, but umpire
John Hirschbeck ruled otherwise.

"I didn't think it was that close," said shortstop Julio Lugo,
who delayed his throw while looking Lopez back to third. "I think
that was the key to the game."

The Orioles added a run in the fifth and chased Rob Bell (1-3).
With two outs, Lopez, Surhoff and Matos all hit singles. Lopez
scored on a close play at the plate, bringing out Piniella, who
vehemently argued the call by plate umpire Bill Welke.

Piniella then pulled Bell, who yielded five runs and 10 hits in
his shortest outing this year.

After a two-out RBI single by Sanchez put Tampa Bay up 1-0 in
the second, Surhoff singled in a run in the bottom half.

Baldelli led off the third with his fifth home run before Huff
singled, stole second and scored on a single by Lugo.

But the lead wouldn't last.

"We had our chances but I didn't come through in my
situations," said Martinez, who went 0-for-5 and stranded six
runners. "Still, we've been playing better baseball, and hopefully
it will continue."

Game notes
Julio's only two blown saves this season have been against
Tampa Bay. ... Roberts stole second in the sixth, giving the
Orioles 14 steals in their last nine games. They lead the majors
with 52. ... Baldelli was 1-for-10 lifetime against Lopez before
his homer.