Orioles 9, Devil Rays 6


BALTIMORE (AP) – The Baltimore Orioles evidently decided to save their heavy hitting for games that count.

Luis Matos and Melvin Mora hit successive homers in the fifth inning, and Miguel Tejada and Jeff Conine also connected, leading Baltimore past the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 9-6 Monday for its sixth straight win on opening day.

Newcomer Ramon Hernandez went 3-for-3 with a walk for the Orioles, who totaled 14 hits in Sam Perlozzo’s managerial debut. Baltimore, which ranked last in the AL with 14 spring training homers, tied the team mark for an opener set in 1982.

Eight different players had at least one RBI for the Orioles, who scored as many as nine runs only three times in 30 exhibition games. Hernandez had six hits in spring training and batted .167.

Jonny Gomes and Travis Lee homered for Tampa Bay, but it wasn’t enough offense to make a winner of Joe Maddon in his managerial debut.

Rodrigo Lopez (1-0) allowed seven hits and five earned runs in seven innings. LaTroy Hawkins pitched the eighth and rookie Chris Ray got three outs for his first big league save.

Scott Kazmir (0-1) gave up six runs in four-plus innings. He yielded a career-high three homers after surrendering only 12 in 186 innings last year.

Baltimore trailed 4-3 before batting around in a four-run fifth to take the lead for good. After Matos and Mora homered, Kevin Millar and Hernandez added RBI singles.

Lee hit a two-run shot in the sixth to get the Devil Rays to 7-6, but Jay Gibbons doubled in a run in the bottom half and Conine added a solo homer in the seventh.

All told, it wasn’t the start Maddon had in mind when he became the fourth manager in team history in November.

Maddon’s mother and sister drove down from Hazelton, Pa., to join him for his big day. They didn’t come empty-handed.

“Everytime somebody from Hazelton comes to a game they’re required to bring either Third Base Hoagies or Bell Hops steak and cheese hoagies or Snape’s cold cut pizza,” Maddon said. “Especially if I leave you tickets.”

Maddon saved the subs for after the game. He was probably too nervous to eat it beforehand.

“We’ve had a great spring training,” he said, “and I’m really eager for us to get it started to see how it all shakes out.”

Tampa Bay went up 1-0 in the first inning when Julio Lugo doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jorge Cantu. Gomes led off the second with a drive to center, his second homer in nine career at-bats against Lopez.

Baltimore tied it in the bottom half. In his first at-bat with the Orioles, Millar hit a one-out double. He scored on a triple by Javy Lopez, who came home on a single by Hernandez.

A throwing error by Rodrigo Lopez and an RBI single by Cantu made it 4-2 in the third. Tejada homered in the Orioles’ half.

Notes: Matos became the first Oriole to homer on successive opening days since Frank Robinson in 1969 and 1970. … Lugo left in the third inning with a strained muscle in his left rib cage. … Kazmir (22 years, 69 days) was the youngest opening day major league starter since Dwight Gooden (21 years, 143 days) in 1986. … The last Orioles to homer in successive at-bats in the opener were Don Baylor and Brooks Robinson in 1973.

AP-ES-04-03-06 1757EDT