Mora homers as Orioles top Devil Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Lou Piniella's final weekend as
Devil Rays manager got off to a rough start.

Melvin Mora hit a two-run homer, and the Baltimore Orioles beat
Tampa Bay 7-6 Friday night, hours after it was announced that
Piniella would not return as Devil Rays manager.

"It's definitely sad seeing Lou go," Devil Rays second baseman
Jorge Cantu said. "That's his decision. But with this group of
guys, we're really hungry to have a winning record. It's just a
matter of us sticking together."

Aubrey Huff hit a three-run homer for Tampa Bay (67-93). The
Devil Rays are 39-32 since the All-Star break.

"We've got a new ownership group taking over. They need to
bring in their own manager that they can grow with," Piniella
said. "At the same time, it'll give me time to go home and relax,
fish and play some golf. I'm tired. I need some time off. It'll
give me a chance to do those things, and at the same time to
evaluate and look at situations that might arise about my future."

Mora has homered in five of his last nine games. Eric Dubose
(2-3) allowed one hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings for his first win
since Aug. 17, and B.J. Ryan pitched the ninth for his 35th save in
40 opportunities.

The decision on Piniella had long been expected after he
questioned ownership's commitment to winning.

Piniella had one season remaining on a $13 million, four-year
contract he signed in October 2002. According to terms of the
buyout, he will be free to pursue other jobs after Sunday's finale.

Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo was a coach when Piniella
managed Cincinnati and Seattle.

"I'm sure the last three years have been tough," Perlozzo
said. "He's such a competitor. He's a winner. If he wants to sit
out a year he will. If he wants to manage, someone will go get

The Orioles are 21-32 under Perlozzo, who could learn his status
for next season by early next week. Baltimore's win was its second
in the last 13 games.

Luis Matos hit a two-run double during a three-run first for
Baltimore. Jonny Gomes drove in a run with a double as Tampa Bay
pulled within 3-2 in the bottom half.

Huff's three-run homer in the third put the Devil Rays ahead
5-3, but Mora connected as the Orioles scored three times in the
fourth to take a 6-5 lead.

Pinch-hitter Chris Gomez extended the Orioles' lead to 7-5 with
an RBI single in the eighth. Mora misplayed Julio Lugo's grounder
for an error in the bottom of the inning that allowed a run to
score and make it 7-6.

Neither starting pitcher made it past the fourth. Baltimore's
John Maine allowed five runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings. Devil
Rays right-hander Doug Waechter (5-12) gave up six runs and seven
hits over four innings.

Waechter, winless in six starts, pitched with a head cold.

Game notes
Piniella said rookie LHP Scott Kazmir (10-9) will not make
his last scheduled start on Sunday. Kazmir has thrown 186 innings
in 32 starts. "I don't see any reason," Piniella said. "He's had
a good year." ... Ryan has converted 13 straight save chances. ...
Tampa Bay LF Carl Crawford (sore left wrist) was out of the lineup
for the third straight game. Crawford experienced pain swinging a
bat and doesn't expect to hit again this season. ... Huff has 22
homers this year. Ten have been three-run shots or grand slams. ...
Mora has reached 25 homers in consecutive seasons.