ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Melvin Mora hit a two-run homer, and the Baltimore Orioles beat Tampa Bay 7-6 Friday night, hours after it was announced that Lou Piniella would not return as Devil Rays manager.

Mora has homered in five of his last nine games. Eric Dubose (2-3) allowed one hit in 3 1-3 scoreless innings for his first win since Aug. 17, and B.J. Ryan pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 40 opportunities.

Aubrey Huff hit a three-run homer for Tampa Bay. The Devil Rays are 39-32 since the All-Star break.

The decision on Piniella had long been expected after he questioned ownership’s commitment to winning.

Piniella had one season remaining on a $13 million, four-year contract he signed in October 2002. According to terms of the buyout, he will be free to pursue other jobs after Sunday’s finale.

Luis Matos hit a two-run double during a three-run first for Baltimore. Jonny Gomes drove in a run with a double as Tampa Bay pulled within 3-2 in the bottom half.

Huff’s three-run homer in the third put the Devil Rays ahead 5-3, but Mora connected as the Orioles scored three times in the fourth to take a 6-5 lead.

Pinch-hitter Chris Gomez extended the Orioles’ lead to 7-5 with an RBI single in the eighth. Mora misplayed Julio Lugo’s grounder for an error in the bottom of the inning that allowed a run to score and make it 7-6.

Neither starting pitcher made it past the fourth. Baltimore’s John Maine allowed five runs and six hits in 2 2-3 innings. Devil Rays right-hander Doug Waechter (5-12) gave up six runs and seven hits over four innings.

Notes: Tampa Bay LF Carl Crawford (sore left wrist) was out of the lineup for the third straight game. Crawford experienced pain swinging a bat and doesn’t expect to hit again this season. … The Orioles are 21-32 under interim manager Sam Perlozzo, who could learn his status for next season by early next week. … Huff has 22 homers this year. Ten have been three-run shots or grand slams.

AP-ES-09-30-05 2212EDT


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