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Hendrickson's complete game shutout lifts Rays past O's

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Reflecting upon his first win as a rookie
manager, Joe Maddon conceded that the only important decision he
made was to choose Mark Hendrickson as his starting pitcher.

Hendrickson did the rest.

Facing a team that scored 25 runs in its first two games,
Hendrickson pitched a three-hitter to lead the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
past the Baltimore Orioles 2-0 Thursday night.

"I had nothing to do with it. Mr. Hendrickson was pretty
incredible tonight," said Maddon, hired in November as the fourth
manager in franchise history. "It was a tremendous pitching
performance, especially after all the runs they scored the last two
days."

Baltimore failed to get a runner past second base against
Hendrickson (1-0), who walked one and struck out five in his fifth
career complete game -- the third against Baltimore. His only other
shutout was a rain-shortened, seven-inning effort against the New
York Yankees on July 21, 2003.

"Everything was working. I stayed focused, and I didn't get too
far ahead of myself," Hendrickson said. "If I gave up a hit, I
concentrated on making pitches. I'm proud of fact I did that for
all nine innings."

The 6-foot-9 left-hander outpitched Kris Benson (0-1), who
allowed two runs and four hits over seven innings in his debut with
the Orioles. Benson struck out three and walked three.

"I would have liked to get the win. That's definitely not the
way I wanted to kick it off," said Benson, acquired in an
offseason trade with the New York Mets. "The guy pitched a great
game out there, and kept us to pretty much the minimum."

Benson's wife, model Anna Benson, filed for divorce on March 31
and changed her mind five days later. But the pitcher said that had
no influence on his performance.

"Not one bit," Benson said.

The victory enabled the Devil Rays to avoid the first 0-3 start
in franchise history. Although Tampa Bay scored 12 runs and batted
.299 in its first two games, Maddon was denied his first victory as
a big league manager because the Devil Rays' pitching staff
couldn't contain the Orioles.

That wasn't a problem for Hendrickson, who retired the side in
order five times and set down 15 of the last 16 batters.

"A lot of first-pitch strikes, he kept you off balance with a
lot of off-speed stuff after fastballs," said Jeff Conine, who
went 0-for-2 with a walk. "Obviously that was effective because we
didn't get too many square bats on the ball."

Although Baltimore was off to its best start since 1997, the
game drew a crowd of 13,194 -- the smallest in the 15-year history
of Camden Yards.

Tampa Bay scored both its runs in the third inning. Joey
Gathright drew a leadoff walk and Nick Green singled before Carl
Crawford singled in a run and Jonny Gomes hit a sacrifice fly.
Benson then struck out Travis Lee with two outs and runners on the
corners.

"My control let me down in that inning," Benson said. "The
leadoff walk to Gathright definitely came back to hurt me. Other
than that, I felt like I made some quality pitches throughout the
night."

Hendrickson, meanwhile, permitted only two runners past first
base. In the second inning, Javy Lopez hit a two-out single and
Conine walked before Ramon Hernandez, who came in hitting 1.000,
grounded out.

Kevin Millar hit a two-out double in the fourth and was
stranded. The Orioles' only other hit was a third-inning single by
rookie Nick Markakis.

Game notes
The Devil Rays placed SS Julio Lugo on the 15-day disabled
list with a strained abdominal muscle and released RHP Jesus
Colome. INF Tomas Perez, signed earlier in the day to a one-year
contract, entered as a pinch runner in the eighth and stayed in the
game at 3B. ... Hernandez went 0-for-3 after going 5-for-5 with
three walks in his first two games with Baltimore. ... Hendrickson
has four of Tampa Bay's five complete games since 2003.