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O's pounce on Ray early with five-run first

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The rejuvenated Baltimore Orioles haven't
abandoned the notion of doing something special this season.

Jay Gibbons' second career grand slam capped a five-run first
inning, and Baltimore clinched its first series win since the
All-Star break by beating the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 9-5 Wednesday
night.

Miguel Tejada drove in three runs for the Orioles, who improved
to 4-2 under interim manager Sam Perlozzo. The four wins is twice
as many as Baltimore had in its final 18 games under Lee Mazzilli,
who was fired on Aug. 4.

"We are not out of anything. We need to go with that in a
long-range plan, but we also know that can't be accomplished until
we start stringing a few wins together and having some
confidence," Perlozzo said. "If we can do that, then that
long-range goal becomes clearer to us, and hopefully we can turn it
around and put a real streak together."

The Orioles (55-58) still have plenty of ground to make up to
get back into contention for a playoff berth, but at least they're
in the running to end a run of seven straight losing seasons.

"We're trying hard," Gibbons said.

Rodrigo Lopez (11-6) came within one out of a complete game. He
allowed nine hits, struck out three, walked two and improved to 4-1
in his last six starts.

After Toby Hall's RBI double in the ninth, Jorge Julio got the
final out.

"It's a victory. I'll take it," Lopez said. "Of course I'd
like to go for my first complete game of the season, but we have to
play as a team. It wasn't the right time."

By winning the first two games of the three-game set, Baltimore
is assured of capturing only its second series since taking two of
three from Colorado from June 17-19. The Orioles' last series win
came July 7-10, against Boston.

"That doesn't surprise me because we weren't playing very
well," Perlozzo said. "It is a step. Let's face it, as much as
we've struggled, we have to take little steps until they add up to
something. Right now, we're going about it the right way."

Aubrey Huff and Jonny Gomes homered for the Devil Rays, now 0-5
in Baltimore this season.

"Hopefully we will pitch better tomorrow," Tampa Bay manager
Lou Piniella said.

The Orioles took control in the first inning against Casey
Fossum (6-9). Brian Roberts hit a leadoff single and Eric Byrnes
walked before Tejada hit an RBI single. After Javy Lopez was walked
intentionally to load the bases, Sammy Sosa fouled out.

Gibbons then hit a 1-1 pitch over the 25-foot scoreboard in
right field. It was his 17th home run of the season and his first
with the bases full since June 13, 2003, against Milwaukee.

"I think it was a slider," Gibbons said. "I think he left it
a little bit over the plate. It was moving pretty good; I just kind
of hooked it."

Melvin Mora made it 6-0 with an RBI single in the second.

Rodrigo Lopez retired his first 10 batters before running into
trouble in the fourth. After Julio Lugo drew a one-out walk and
Carl Crawford doubled, Jorge Cantu was retired on a fly ball.
Rodrigo Lopez then went to 3-0 on Huff, who hit his 16th homer on
the next pitch.

"We let him swing on 3-0, gave us a home run and got us back in
it," Piniella said. "But in the fifth they got three and put it
away."

Tejada hit a two-run double in the Baltimore fifth and Javy
Lopez followed with an RBI single to chase Fossum, who came in 2-0
with a 0.90 ERA in four career games at Camden Yards.

Fossum allowed nine runs and seven hits in four-plus innings,
his worst performance of the season.

"This is one of those outings I have to put behind me," he
said. "It's kind of tough to give up five runs in the first
inning. One swing of the bat was the whole difference in the
game."

Fossum did, however, end a run of 10 straight starts in which he
hit at least one batter with a pitch.

Gomes homered in the seventh to make it 9-4. His 14 homers is a
Tampa Bay rookie record.

Game notes
Byrnes singled in the fifth, giving him a hit in all 11
games since he was traded from Colorado on July 29. ... Fossum's
ERA rose from 3.89 to 4.47. ... Baltimore's Alejandro Freire got
his first major-league hit, a double, in the eighth.