ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Chris Britton backed up his claim to
his manager and earned his first major league save.
Britton pitched a perfect ninth to complete three scoreless
innings by the struggling Baltimore bullpen and the Orioles beat
the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 5-4 on Tuesday night.
Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo asked Britton if he could handle
the closer role and the right-hander told him "Believe it."
"I was giving him a chance to live up to his word," Perlozzo
said with a smile.
The Orioles' bullpen entered the game with a 5.27 ERA. In
addition, closer Chris Ray was not available after working 3 1/3
innings over the previous two games.
"It didn't change my approach," Britton said. "I just tried
to stay the same and go right after them. Honestly, I put the save
opportunity in the back of my mind. I just went out there and tried
to get another inning done."
Ramon Hernandez's RBI double highlighted a four-run fifth
inning, helping Baltimore extend the Devil Rays' season-high losing
streak to nine games.
David Newhan walked with the bases loaded later in the inning to
make it 5-3.
Adam Loewen (6-5) allowed four runs and six hits over six
"He struggled with his command of his fastball most of the
night," Perlozzo said. "The one good thing about Adam, he's smart
enough to know what pitches to go to when his fastball is not
LaTroy Hawkins, who hadn't pitched since straining his right
groin on Sept. 2, struck out Tampa Bay's Shawn Riggans with runners
on second and third and two outs in the eighth.
The Devil Rays are 3-for-19 over the past two games with runners
in scoring position, and hitting .245 overall in that department.
"The runner in scoring position phenomenon is really eating us
alive," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
Jorge Cantu hit a solo homer during a three-run second that put
the Devil Rays ahead 3-0. Loewen had faced 216 batters -- since
Cantu hit a grand slam on July 21 -- without allowing a homer.
B.J. Upton had an infield RBI single and Ben Zobrist hit a
run-scoring triple in the second for the Devil Rays. Tampa Bay has
lost 56 times after taking a lead, one from the AL record set by
Detroit in 2002.
Damon Hollins got Tampa Bay within 5-4 with a sacrifice fly in
Baltimore loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but
scored just one run when Chris Gomez extended his hitting streak to
12 games with an RBI single.
Rookie Jason Hammel (0-4) gave up five runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3
innings. Three of his losses have been to Baltimore.
"I made some good pitches to get groundballs that could have
been outs," Hammel said. "Then the balls they hit were hard."
Tampa Bay first baseman Ty Wigginton appeared to lose count of
the outs in the second. With Gibbons on first and two outs, Corey
Patterson hit a grounder near the base. Instead of taking the easy
out at first, Wigginton threw the ball to Zobrist at second for the
After Zobrist made an unnecessary late return to throw to first,
several of the Devil Rays briefly remained on the field until
realizing the inning was over.
A moment of silence was held for former baseball executive
Syd Thrift, who died Monday night. ... Hernandez has four RBI as a
DH. ... Baltimore C Chris Widger (right shoulder pinched nerve)
could miss the rest of the season. ... Tampa Bay pitching coach
Mike Butcher was ejected in the fifth while arguing a balk call.
... Devil Rays rookie RF Delmon Young went 0-for-4 and had his
12-game hitting streak ended.