Fossum takes three-hitter into seventh as Rays sweep

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Joe Borowski made it look easy.

The ex-Chicago Cubs closer pitched a perfect eighth inning and teamed Sunday with two other members of Tampa Bay's resurgent bullpen to shut down Baltimore and finish a 6-2 victory and a sweep of the struggling Orioles.

Casey Fossum took a three-hitter into the seventh and Carl Crawford broke open a close game with a two-run homer in the eighth for the Devil Rays, who improved to 7-3 since Borowski joined the team during the All-Star break.

"I find no bigger rush than pitching when the game is on the line," said Borowski, who hasn't allowed a run in six appearances. "Going out there, throwing strikes and making them put it in play. That's all you can do."

The right-hander saved 33 games for the Cubs in 2003, helping them make the playoffs. He appeared in 11 games this season and was 0-0 with a 6.55 ERA before being designated for assignment when the Cubs activated Kerry Wood on June 29.

Tampa Bay closer Danys Baez was an All-Star but hasn't gotten nearly as many save opportunities as manager Lou Piniella would like because of the bullpen's failure to protect leads in the eighth inning.

Borowski has changed that, allowing one hit and one walk in 5 2/3 innings.

"The biggest difference has been the emergence of Borowski, quieting down the eighth inning," Piniella said. "It relaxes other guys and allows them to pitch like they can."

Jorge Cantu had an RBI double and Toby Hall snapped a fourth-inning tie with a run-scoring single off Erik Bedard (5-2) to help Fossum overcome solo homers by Sammy Sosa and Sal Fasano.

Sosa's fourth-inning shot was his 585th, moving him within one of Frank Robinson for fifth on the career list. Fasano's ninth of the season gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the third.

Fossum (5-8) walked one and struck out six in 6 1/3 innings. But with the Devil Rays clinging to a 3-2 lead with Sosa strolling to the plate in the seventh, Piniella went to his bullpen.

Chad Orvella struck out Sosa and Eli Marrero to finish the seventh. After Borowski's perfect eighth, Travis Harper worked the ninth to complete the four-hitter.

The loss extended Baltimore's second-longest losing streak this season to five games. The Orioles lost six straight June 20-26.

Hitting has been a problem.

The Orioles were limited to five hits -- two after the first inning -- in a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday night. Besides the homers by Sosa and Fasano on Sunday, they were held to Melvin Mora's sixth-inning single and Miguel Tejada's ninth-inning double.

"Fossum did a great job. But everybody's doing a great job against us lately," Baltimore's Brian Roberts said.

Help could be on the way.

Padres slugger Phil Nevin has until Tuesday night to decide whether to accept a proposed trade to the Orioles for pitcher Sidney Ponson.

Nevin's agent, Barry Axelrod, said he spoke briefly Saturday night with Jim Beattie, Baltimore's executive vice president, and again at length on Sunday.

"They said he would be an everyday player if he came, either DH or first base," Axelrod said. "It's not an interim move. There was some speculation that they were looking to take Phil and then make a second trade that would bring them a starting pitcher, but they said one thing they were looking for is to get another bat for the middle of the lineup."

Sosa is hitting .219 with six homers and 21 RBI in 46 games since missing nearly three weeks with an abscess and staph infection on the bottom of his left foot. The seven-time All-Star homered for just the second time since June 18, although the 398-foot shot did extend his current hitting streak to eight games.

"We're going to grind it out and get through this," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "No one is jumping off the ship. Right now, we're just struggling."

Bedard allowed three runs and nine hits over six innings in his second start since coming off the disabled list. He was sidelined with a sprained ligament in his left knee.

Cantu's RBI double in the third ended a 15-inning scoreless streak Bedard began before his stint on the DL. The Devil Rays added two more runs in the fourth on Bedard's throwing error and Hall's RBI single.

Game notes
Nine of Sosa's 11 home runs have been solo shots. ... Cantu has 32 RBI in his last 33 games. ... Baltimore catcher Javy Lopez
(broken right hand) is expected to be activated from the disabled list on Monday.