Orioles sting Rays in last at-bat once again

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Jeff Conine had already been traded when he
stepped to the plate in the eighth inning.

He didn't know about the deal that sent him from the Baltimore
Orioles to the Philadelphia Phillies, which was agreed upon one
inning earlier. All he knew was that the Orioles needed a run to
pull even with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Conine delivered an RBI double in what turned out to be his
final at-bat with Baltimore, and the Orioles went on to beat the
Devil Rays 5-4 Sunday.

The trade that sent Conine and cash to the Phillies for a player
to be named, was announced after the game.

"I was kind of hoping he'd be the one to put us ahead,"
Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said. "It's just a tribute to him,
because he's known probably this (trade was) a distinct
possibility. And still he was able to go out there with a level
head and help his team."

Miguel Tejada singled in the winning run with one out in the
ninth inning, leaving the Devil Rays with their 10th straight loss
on the road. The game ended with Conine in the on-deck circle, but
he had two RBI to help the Orioles win a second straight in their
final at-bat.

"It's kind of bittersweet," Conine said before packing his
bags. "I love it here in Baltimore, but on the flip side you get
to go play in a pennant race and try to make it to the postseason
one more time."

The Orioles long ago dropped out of contention, but they're not
coasting to the finish. Their sweep of Tampa Bay gave them eight
wins in 11 games.

With one out in the ninth, Nick Markakis singled off Seth
McClung (4-12). After Melvin Mora walked on a 3-2 pitch, Tejada
grounded a single to right, and Markakis beat Greg Norton's throw
home with a headfirst slide.

LaTroy Hawkins (2-2) worked the ninth for Baltimore.

Kevin Witt homered for the Devil Rays, whose 10-game road skid
is the second-longest in franchise history. They lost 13 straight
on the road in 2002.

Tampa Bay is 1-18 on the road since the All-Star break.

"We have to get better in certain areas. We know that," Devil
Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But the one area that I'm glad
we're not having to get better is intensity. It's just a matter of
execution in the right spots. Eventually it will show up for us."

The Devil Rays got 13 hits, at least one by every starter, but
stranded 13.

"It was there for us. We just couldn't get it done," Maddon
said. "It's frustrating."

Devil Rays starter J.P. Howell gave up two runs and six hits in
six innings, striking out six and walking one. He was called up
from the minors on Friday to replace Scott Kazmir, who was placed
on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder tightness.

Howell left with the Devil Rays up 4-2, but the bullpen couldn't
hold the lead.

Orioles starter Adam Loewen allowed three runs and nine hits in
five innings. He had yielded a total of three runs in his previous
two starts.

Baltimore closed to 4-3 against Ruddy Lugo in the seventh. Kevin
Millar hit a leadoff double, took third on an infield hit by Corey
Patterson and scored on grounder by Brandon Fahey.

Patterson was called out at second on the fielder's choice,
although replays showed he beat the throw. Perlozzo argued to no
avail, and the play proved significant when Brian Roberts hit a
two-out single to right before Jon Switzer struck out Markakis with
runners on the corners.

In the eighth, however, Baltimore used successive doubles by
Tejada and Conine to tie it at 4. But the Orioles left the bases
loaded, as did the Devil Rays in the top of the inning.

Both teams scored twice in the fourth. Singles by B.J. Upton,
Dioner Navarro and Norton gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead in the fifth,
and Witt connected off rookie James Hoey in the sixth. It was his
first homer since 2003, when he played for Detroit.

Game notes
Witt's home run was the only one by the Devil Rays in the
series. It was their 153rd of the season, nine short of the team
record (2000). ... Tejada grounded into a double-play for the 26th
time, most in the AL. But he made a brilliant throw from SS to
retire Damon Hollins in the seventh. ... Rocco Baldelli went
2-for-5 before leaving in the eighth inning with cramps in his left
hamstring. He has six multihit games in his last eight starts.