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Orioles win as Gibbons continues to beat up on Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- A familiar result on the scoreboard
didn't spoil a new beginning for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Erik Bedard scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings
Monday night, helping the Baltimore Orioles beat Tampa Bay 6-3 in
the Devil Rays' home debut under new principal owner Stuart
Sternberg.

A crowd of 40,199 -- only the fourth sellout in the franchise's
nine seasons -- packed Tropicana Field and coming up short on the
scoreboard was the farthest thing from Sternberg's mind.

"It's a great feeling," the beaming New York investor said.
"It was just pleasing that the people cared enough to come out.
They were here for what really was a new beginning."

Jay Gibbons kept up his hot hitting against Tampa Bay with a
solo homer and bases-loaded infield single off Seth McClung (0-2),
who also lost to Bedard and the Orioles last Wednesday in
Baltimore.

Gibbons is 6-for-13 with two homers and seven RBI in three
games against Tampa Bay this season. David Newhan also drove in a
run with a third-inning single and Ramon Hernandez finished the
Orioles' four-run third with a two-run single.

Bedard (2-0) allowed four singles, struck out five and walked
two to beat the Devils Rays for the second time in less than a
week. LaTroy Hawkins pitched the eighth and gave up a two-out RBI
triple to Aubrey Huff.

Despite the loss, it was an exciting night for Sternberg, who
took control from Vince Naimoli last fall and has gone out of his
way to make the franchise more fan-friendly and initiate other
changes he hopes will make the franchise more productive on the
field.

The owner shook hands, signed autographs and chatted with fans
filing through the main entrance to the club's the oft-criticized
domed stadium that's undergone a $10 million facelift for this
season.

Sternberg restructured ticket prices, lowered concession prices
and introduced free parking for fans, who also are allowed to hold
tailgating parties and bring their own food into the park for the
first time.

Monday also marked the reopening of the Ted Williams Museum and
Hitters Hall of Fame, which was moved from nearby Citrus County to
Tropicana Field during spring training, an addition the Devil Rays
hope attracts more fans.

But what Sternberg is counting on more than anything else is
improvement on the field. There were few signs of that Monday night
until it was too late.

Still, first-year manager Joe Maddon said the result was not
indicative of the direction the team is headed.

"It was a good night. ... You're disappointed, but I'm not
disappointed in the guys. We ran into a good pitcher," Maddon
said. "We lost tonight because they pitched better. But the guys
came ready to play and they're going to just keep getting better
and better."

Toby Hall had two of the four hits off Bedard, then hit a
two-run homer off Tim Byrdak to trim Baltimore's lead to 6-3 in the
ninth. Right-hander Chris Ray got three outs for his second save.

Bedard worked out of situations with runners in scoring position
in the fourth, sixth and seventh inning, preserving his shutout in
the seventh when he fielded Nick Green's one-out grounder to the
mound and threw out Jonny Gomes trying to score from third base.

"I thought the big step Erik took was the one inning when he
was borderline, his pitch count was up and he battled to get out of
it," Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said. "I thought that was a
big step for him to show that he can carry it into late in the
game."

Game notes
Miguel Tejada was 3-for-4, including a RBI double in the
ninth, for Baltimore. ... McClung allowed five runs and seven hits
in five innings. He walked three and struck out three. ... Gibbons
has a hit in all six games he's played. ... The Devil Rays honored
late Hall of Famer Al Lopez with a video tribute. The son, grandson
and great grandson of the only Tampa native enshrined at
Cooperstown threw the ceremonial first pitches. Tampa natives and
former major leaguers Tino Martinez and Fred McGrff were honorary
catchers.