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Piniella's one-on-ones spark Devil Rays' offense in win over Orioles

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Instead of ranting about Tampa Bay's lack of offensive production in crucial situations, Lou Piniella used a calm approach to coax the Devil Rays out of their hitting woes.

"He didn't hold a meeting or nothing," All-Star Carl Crawford said after Thursday night's 12-7 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. "He just came up to us one by one and told us to kind of relax."

Crawford hit a three-run homer and Travis Lee and Josh Phelps also drove in three runs apiece, leading a season-high 14-hit attack in support of Rob Bell (1-0), who allowed nine hits and four earned runs in six innings.

The Devil Rays snapped a three-game losing streak that featured poor hitting with runners in scoring position. They were 1-for-11 in those situations and stranded 14 men in a 5-1 loss to Baltimore on Wednesday night.

"We got them on tonight, and we got them in, too," Piniella said. "I told them to relax. I told them to swing the bat -- if you get it done this time, you'll get it done next time."

Crawford's second homer of the season was the big blow in a seven-run fourth inning against Sidney Ponson (1-1). The rally opened a 12-3 lead that Baltimore cut into with two runs in the fifth and Miguel Tejada's two-run homer off Seth McClung in the seventh.

Melvin Mora hit a two-run homer off Bell and went 3-for-5 with three RBI for the Orioles, falling a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. Sammy Sosa drove in a run for the third consecutive game, contributing a RBI double in the fifth.

Alex Sanchez, the first player disciplined for violating baseball's new policy on performance-enhancing drugs, returned from a 10-day suspension and had two hits and scored a run for Tampa Bay.

Catcher Charles Johnson, who missed three games last weekend after requesting a leave to handle a personal matter, also made his first start for the Devil Rays. He began the seven-run fourth with a double and finished it with a RBI single.

"We are the last team that needs suspensions or players taking a leave of absence," Piniella said, though he added that he couldn't blame the team's hitting woes on Sanchez and Johnson being away.

"All in all," the manager said, "if we hit a little better and pitched a little better we could have won a few more games."

Even before Crawford's homer made it 8-3, the Devil Rays were threatening to chase Ponson.

Aubrey Huff set the tone for the big night with a RBI single in the first. Two batters later, Lee drove in two with another single off Ponson, who surrendered nine runs and seven hits in three-plus innings.

"I'm not going to make any excuses," Ponson said. "I couldn't throw strikes. ... That's a formula for disaster."

Lee's third RBI came on a force play in the third. Phelps had a run-scoring single in the third and two-run single off reliever Rick Bauer in the fourth.

Tampa Bay reliever Jesus Colome left the game because of tendinitis in his pitching shoulder after throwing just six pitches in the seventh. McClung replaced him and gave up the two-run homer to Tejada on his second pitch.

Notes

  • Colome was put on the 15-day disabled list after the game. Right-hander Doug Waechter will be recalled from Triple-A Durham.
  • The Devil Rays finished a nine-game, season-opening homestand in which they went 4-5. Their first road trip takes them to Boston and New York for five games. They're 29-82 all-time at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.
  • Devil Rays SS Julio Lugo has four errors in his last six games.
  • Brian Roberts led off the game with a single, making him the only player with a hit in each of Baltimore's nine games.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Carl Crawford hits a three-run homer as the Devil Rays put up a seven spot in the fourth inning.  (AP)
Carl Crawford hits a three-run homer as the Devil Rays put up a seven spot in the fourth inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

C. Crawford
AB 3
R 2
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
Baltimore

M. Mora
AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
 

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Baltimore Orioles
Brian Roberts, 2B4220121 .405
David Newhan, CF4211003 .125
   a- Luis Matos, PH-CF1000011 .333
Melvin Mora, 3B5233011 .231
Miguel Tejada, SS5122001 .333
Sammy Sosa, RF5011000 .263
Rafael Palmeiro, DH4000003 .241
Javy Lopez, C4010000 .286
Jay Gibbons, 1B4000001 .208
Larry Bigbie, LF4020021 .261
Totals4071271612 
a-struck out for Newhan in the 8th
Batting
2B - Melvin Mora (2, Colome), Sammy Sosa (2, R. Bell), Larry Bigbie (2, R. Bell)
3B - Brian Roberts (2, R. Bell)
HR - Melvin Mora (1, R. Bell), Miguel Tejada (1, McClung)
RBI - David Newhan (1), Melvin Mora 3 (4), Miguel Tejada 2 (10), Sammy Sosa (3)
2-OUT RBI - Sammy Sosa (2)
SB - Brian Roberts 2 (4, 2nd base off R. Bell/Johnson, 2nd base off R. Bell/Johnson)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Larry Bigbie 1
DP - Tejada-Gibbons
Baltimore Orioles
Sidney Ponson (L,1-1) 3799411 13.50
Rick Bauer 3.2633130 9.64
John Parrish 1.1100120 0.00
IBB - Phelps by John Parrish
Pitches-Strikes - Sidney Ponson 79-44, Rick Bauer 61-39, John Parrish 20-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Sidney Ponson 4-4, Rick Bauer 4-2, John Parrish 1-1
Batters Faced - Sidney Ponson 20, Rick Bauer 16, John Parrish 6
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Carl Crawford, LF3213210 .265
Julio Lugo, SS3110210 .281
Alex Sanchez, CF5320012 .400
Aubrey Huff, RF4211113 .324
Josh Phelps, DH4123110 .344
Travis Lee, 1B5133002 .296
Jorge Cantu, 2B4011003 .324
Charles Johnson, C4121010 .500
Nick Green, 3B4110001 .154
Totals361214126611 
Batting
2B - Julio Lugo (1, Parrish), Alex Sanchez (1, Bauer), Travis Lee (2, Bauer), Jorge Cantu (1, Bauer), Charles Johnson (1, Ponson)
HR - Carl Crawford (2, Ponson)
RBI - Carl Crawford 3 (9), Aubrey Huff (6), Josh Phelps 3 (9), Travis Lee 3 (4), Jorge Cantu (8), Charles Johnson (1)
2-OUT RBI - Travis Lee 2 (2)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
PB - Charles Johnson (1)
E - Julio Lugo (4, Misplayed grounder)
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Rob Bell (W,1-0) 6954131 4.50
Jesus Colome0111000 5.79
Seth McClung 1111001 12.46
Trever Miller 1100020 0.00
Danys Baez 1000010 0.00
WP - Rob Bell (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Rob Bell 94-62, Jesus Colome 2-1, Seth McClung 13-7, Trever Miller 17-13, Danys Baez 8-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Rob Bell 9-7, Danys Baez 2-0
Batters Faced - Rob Bell 29, Jesus Colome 1, Seth McClung 4, Trever Miller 4, Danys Baez 3
Game Information
Attendance - 9797
Game Time - 2:44
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Tony Randazzo, First Base - Ed Montague, Second Base - Jerry Layne, Third Base - Paul Emmel