- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Travis Snider made a good first impression in his debut for the Baltimore Orioles.

Snider had three hits, drove in two runs, made a diving catch and threw a runner out at the plate from right field while helping the defending AL East champions open the season with a 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday.

The Orioles lost slugger Nelson Cruz and outfielder Nick Markakis to free agency after advancing to last year’s AL championship series. They are hoping Snider can help fill the void after he was acquired in a January trade with Pittsburgh.

“I don’t know what else you could ask the guy to do. He had a great first day,” manager Buck Showalter said, adding that the Orioles aren’t going to put pressure on Snider by comparing him to Markakis, who won a Gold Glove in 2014.

“I don’t think Travis looks at it that way until somebody reminds him of it,” Showalter said. “We’re not asking anybody to be Nelson Cruz or Nick Markakis or Andrew Miller or whoever. We want them to be themselves and bring what they bring.”

Chris Tillman pitched into the seventh inning, and the Orioles hit three homers while spoiling Tampa Bay’s debut under rookie manager Kevin Cash.

Tillman allowed one run and four hits, struck out four and walked three in 6 2-3 innings. He was working on a shutout in his second career opening day start before Evan Longoria led off the bottom of the seventh with a home run.

Alejandro De Aza, Steve Pearce and Ryan Flaherty connected for Baltimore, which finished with eight hits.

De Aza fouled off sixth straight pitches at one point during a 10-pitch at-bat that produced his two-run homer off Chris Archer in the fifth.

“The guy put up a good at-bat. He worked his way into getting the pitch I didn’t execute,” Archer said. “He seized the moment.”

Pearce led off the sixth with a drive to left against Archer, who allowed four runs and six hits over 5 2-3 innings.

Cash replaced Joe Maddon after the former Rays manager opted out of his contract and signed with the Chicago Cubs. At 37, he is the youngest current manager or coach among the four major pro sports leagues.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: Showalter expects OF David Lough (left hamstring strain) to return Saturday. … INF Jimmy Paredes (lower back strain) is on target to come off the disabled list April 16. … C Matt Wieters (right elbow ligament replacement surgery) is taking part in a light throwing program.

Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (left shoulder tendinitis) is scheduled to start a rehab assignment Thursday with Class A Charlotte. He likely will need at least four minor league starts before returning. … RHP Alex Colome (pneumonia) will throw batting practice on Thursday. … Minor league pitching prospect Burch Smith, obtained in the offseason trade that sent 2013 AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers to San Diego, will have season-ending Tommy John surgery on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Orioles: 1B Chris Davis will come off the restricted list Tuesday after completing a 25-game suspension for using amphetamines without a prescription.

Rays: RHP Nathan Karns, part of an opening-day roster for the first time, will make his sixth major league start on Tuesday. He is filling one of three openings in Tampa Bay’s rotation created by injuries.

ZIMMER HONORED

The Rays retired the No. 66 jersey worn last season by the late Don Zimmer, who was a senior adviser with the team when he died last June 4. The former Brooklyn Dodgers infielder and manager for several teams, including the Cubs and Red Sox, was in uniform in some capacity for 55 major league opening days. No. 66 is the third number to be retired by the Rays. Wade Boggs’ No. 12 was retired in 2000, and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 was retired by all teams in 1997.

WELCOME BACK

To mark the 20th anniversary of receiving a major league expansion franchise, the Rays invited Vincent J. Namoli, who headed Tampa Bay’s first ownership group, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Namoli was not popular among fans during his run as managing general partner from 1995 to 2005, however the sellout crowd of 31,042 gave him a standing ovation Monday.

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