ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Lou Piniella era in Tampa Bay ended in familiar fashion -- with a loss.
Bruce Chen pitched six strong innings and backup catcher Sal Fasano homered for the second consecutive day, leading the Baltimore Orioles past Tampa Bay 6-2 Sunday in Piniella's finale as Devil Rays manager.
Piniella had one season remaining on a $13 million, four-year contract he signed in October 2002 but will be free to pursue other jobs under the buyout announced Friday. He received a big ovation and shouts of "Lou" when he walked back toward the dugout after bringing out the lineup card before the game. He took off his hat and waved it toward the fans.
"It's not easy, but it's the right thing," Piniella said. "I wouldn't deviate from my decision. I'm perfectly content with it. Now I'll relax, play some golf and fish and do the things I want to do, and evaluate opportunities if they come and when they come."
The Devil Rays finished the season 67-95, three wins shy of the team record set last year.
"It's going to be a little different because I've been here with Lou for the past three years and I've gotten used to his ways," Tampa Bay left fielder Carl Crawford said. "Lou is somebody who wants to win every game, every day. That's the attitude he brings."
Tampa Bay went 39-34 after the All-Star break but finished with a four-game losing streak.
"I think the situation with this ballclub is in much better shape than when I came here," Piniella said. "Now the new ownership can come in and bring in their guy, and I can go do what I need to do."
Piniella went 200-285 with Tampa Bay, which has the lowest payroll in the majors. In his 19 years overall -- which include winning a World Series in 1990 at Cincinnati -- he is 1,519-1,420.
"When I came here, I didn't come here to retire," Piniella said. "I did the best I could from a professional standpoint. I'm proud of some of the things we accomplished. It's not easy to lose, especially when you've won your whole life. It's not enjoyable to lose. That's what I tried to instill here and hopefully that's been done."
Baltimore went 22-32 under interim manager Sam Perlozzo, who probably will find out in the next few days if he will get the fulltime job for next season. Perlozzo replaced Lee Mazzilli on Aug. 4.
"I truly believe they'll make a decision this week," Perlozzo said. "There's nothing else I can do. I'm proud how we hung in there these last two months."
The Orioles (74-88) ended the year with a three-game sweep over Tampa Bay. In a season in which Rafael Palmeiro was suspended for using steroids and Sammy Sosa was hobbled by injury, the Orioles finished with a losing record for the eighth straight season, the worst stretch for the franchise since the St. Louis Browns/Orioles had 11 in a row from 1946-56.
Chen (13-10) gave up two runs and eight hits. Fasano tied it at 2 on a two-run homer in the fifth off Tim Corcoran.
Bernie Castro gave Baltimore a 3-2 lead with an RBI single off Jesus Colome (2-3) in the seventh. Melvin Mora hit a solo homer and Jay Gibbons had a two-run shot in the eighth against Joe Borowski that extended the Orioles advantage to 6-2.
Alex Gonzalez put the Devil Rays up 1-0 on an RBI single in the first. Damon Hollins' third-inning homer made it 2-0.
Corcoran gave up two runs and two hits over 4 1/3 innings in his first major-league start. He didn't allow a hit until Luis Matos led off the fifth with a single.
The announced attendance was 17,450. Tampa Bay finished last in the majors with a home attendance of 1,141,669.