Orioles' Bedard wins seventh consecutive start

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon thought
he might see a pitcher's duel and it turned out he was right.

Erik Bedard pitched seven strong innings to win his seventh
consecutive start and Melvin Mora hit a tiebreaking RBI single
during a two-run eighth inning as the Baltimore Orioles beat the
Devil Rays 4-2 on Sunday.

Bedard (12-6) gave up two runs and three hits in a tight matchup
with All-Star Scott Kazmir.

"I thought both pitchers pitched really well," Maddon said.
"We talked about that before the game. You knew it could happen.
Kaz's slider was very sharp. Bedard's breaking ball, he could throw
it for strikes whenever he wanted to."

Bedard had nine strikeouts and three walks. The 27-year-old
left-hander has given up eight runs in 49 innings during his
winning streak.

"He pitched great again," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said.
"I don't know where we'd be without him. He's been outstanding."

Brian Roberts had a one-out double in the eighth off reliever
Jon Switzer (1-1). Mora snapped a 2-all tie with his single off
Edwin Jackson. Jeff Conine extended the lead to two later in the
inning with a run-scoring single.

Chris Ray pitched the final two innings for his 24th save.

The 22-year-old Kazmir allowed two runs, seven hits, one walk
and struck out 10 in seven innings. The left-hander is 0-2 in his
last three starts, allowing nine runs in 19 1/3 innings.

"Bedard threw a good game," Kazmir said. "Had all of this
stuff working. I just wanted to keep the team in the game. I knew
we'd been battling throughout the whole thing. I felt like I made
some good pitches in some tight situations, so I'll take all the
good things out of this."

Kazmir has struck out 10 or more seven times in his career,
including four this season. Tampa Bay pitchers overall have only 14
all-time 10 or more strikeout games.

Bedard was scratched from his scheduled start Friday because of
food poisoning. He allowed two baserunners -- both on walks --
through four innings.

"Early going I felt a little weak," Bedard said. "But as the
game went on, I felt stronger. I just tried not to overthrow, and
throw strikes."

Travis Lee walked to open the fifth, advanced to second on
Bedard's wild pitch and scored on the Devil Rays' first hit, a
two-out double by Tomas Perez that got Tampa Bay within 2-1. Jorge
Cantu's sixth-inning run-scoring triple tied it at 2.

"He kept us off balanced for the most part," Tampa Bay right
fielder Damon Hollins said. "He's been pitching well and today was
no exception."

Javy Lopez put the Orioles ahead 1-0 on a third-inning homer.
Ramon Hernandez made it 2-0 on an RBI double in the fourth.

Tampa Bay had a combined 27 runs and 32 hits in winning the
first two games of the series. The Orioles recorded 19 runs and 30
hits over the stretch.

"If Erik would have struggled early, I would have worried about
how the team would have responded," Perlozzo said. "Thank
goodness he came out and pitched well, and we were able to get on
top. I thought that was the key to the morale of the club."

Game notes
Devil Rays SS Julio Lugo, who could be traded before the
non-waiver deadline July 31, was out of the starting lineup. He was
also taken out of Saturday night's game after hitting two homers in
the fifth inning. "It's just a day off," Maddon said. "He's been
getting after it real hard so I'm giving the day." ... The Orioles
(45-55) improved to 10-24 in games when the opponent starts a