ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Scott Kazmir pitched seven strong innings and Alex Gonzalez hit a solo homer off Sidney Ponson, leading the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to a 3-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night.

Damon Hollins snapped a seventh-inning tie with an RBI single off Ponson (7-9), subject of trade talks between the Orioles and San Diego Padres despite being 0-5 in six starts since last winning on June 18.

Kazmir (5-7) allowed one run and four hits, struck out seven and walked three. Joe Borowski pitched the eighth, and All-Star closer Danys Baez allowed Miguel Tejada’s 21st homer in the ninth before striking out Sammy Sosa and pinch-hitter Rafael Palmeiro to earn his 19th save in 25 opportunities.

The NL West-leading Padres are interested in acquiring Ponson in exchange for first baseman Phil Nevin, but had not yet asked the San Diego slugger about waiving a limited no-trade clause in his contract.

Before the game, Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli called reports about possible deals involving Ponson strictly “rumors.”

“Unfortunately that’s part of baseball. … Sidney is pitching tonight for the Baltimore Orioles, and that’s where we’re at,” Mazzilli said.

Baltimore is one of eight teams Nevin can refuse a trade to.

Ponson retired his first eight batters before Gonzalez homered to wipe out a 1-0 lead the Orioles took on Sosa’s first-inning RBI single.

Travis Lee and Toby Hall singled to begin the fifth against the right-hander, but Ponson escaped by striking out Gonzalez and getting Joey Gathright to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Three of Baltimore’s hits off Kazmir – Brian Roberts’ double and singles by Miguel Tejada and Sosa – were in the first inning. The Orioles didn’t have another hit until Luis Matos singled with one out in the fifth.

Aubrey Huff opened the Tampa Bay seventh with a double off Ponson, who allowed three runs and nine hits in seven innings. Hollins followed with his tiebreaking single, then scored later on Hall’s RBI grounder.

The loss was the fourth straight for the Orioles, who have dropped 16 of their last 24. They have gone 1-6-2 in their last nine series.

Notes: Wade Boggs, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next weekend, threw out the ceremonial first pitch on “Wade Boggs Night.” He homered at Tropicana Field for his 3,000th hit in 1999, while playing for the Devil Rays. … Sosa’s RBI single gave him a seven-game hitting streak. … Gonzalez’s homer was the 14th Tampa Bay has gotten from the ninth spot in the batting order, most in the majors. Hollins homered as the No. 9 hitter against Baltimore on Friday night.

AP-ES-07-23-05 2035EDT

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