- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2001


BALTIMORE Life is pretty good for the Baltimore Orioles when they play the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

They hit well, they pitch well, and they win.

Unfortunately, the Devil Rays leave Camden Yards after tomorrow night's game, and the varsity arrives Thursday the New York Yankees.

Still, the anemic Orioles have two more opportunities to fatten up on the Devil Rays, as they did again last night with a 5-3 win before 28,510 who saw Mike Kinkade play third base and Cal Ripken sit on the bench. It was the first time in the history of the ballpark that Orioles fans have seen Ripken in his new role as a part-time player.

The victory gives the Orioles a 5-3 record this year against the Devil Rays. And that, combined with their 2-1 mark against the Detroit Tigers, gives Baltimore a 7-4 record against losing teams. And they have a chance to further that mark when they go back to Florida next week to play a three-game series against the Devil Rays and then host the Tigers at Camden Yards the following week.

Between those games, there are seven against the Yankees. The Orioles are 5-10 against winning teams this season.

The win for Orioles' starter Willis Roberts (4-0) tied him briefly for the major league lead in victories until Minnesota's Brad Radke notched his fifth victory last night against the Yankees.

It's a remarkable career turnaround for Roberts, a right-hander who spent eight seasons moving around the minor leagues, where he compiled a lifetime mark of 46-50. He finally got his shot this year when Baltimore signed him as a minor-league free agent in November.

"The difference is that I've gotten an opportunity to throw," said Roberts, who allowed three runs on four hits in six innings. "I'm very comfortable."

The 25-year-old Dominican suffered a blister on the index finger of his right hand and that, he said, caused him to struggle somewhat.

But Orioles manager Mike Hargrove believed it was Roberts' frame of mind that caused more problems than his finger.

"Willis was a little too pumped up early on," Hargrove said. "It was a matter of getting him under control. But the time we did that, his pitch count was up to 90. But he got us through six innings."

Baltimore didn't waste any time in getting to Tampa Bay starter Paul Wilson. Brady Anderson led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run over the right field wall. It was his second homer of the season and the 44th time in his career he had a lead-off homer. Rickey Henderson is the major league leader with 78.

The Orioles added to their 1-0 lead with three more in the bottom of the second off Wilson the one-time New York Met No. 1 draft choice and minor league phenom. Jay Gibbons walked to lead off the inning and Melvin Mora blasted a 2-2 pitch into the left field seats. It was Mora's third home run of the year, and all three have come against Tampa Bay pitching.

Delino DeShields added another run when he brought Brook Fordyce home on a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0, but the inning ended on that play when Jerry Hairston was caught in a rundown as he tried to go to third on the fly ball.

Meanwhile, Roberts coasted along for the first three innings. However, Ben Grieve led off the top of the fourth with a ground rule double and Greg Vaughn walked. Then Fred McGriff hit a drive to left-center field that DeShields tried to make a diving catch on. He was unable to hold on to the ball and Grieve scored. Vaughn went to third and McGriff wound up on second with a double.

After Vinnie Castilla struck out, Vaughn scored on a ground ball by Jose Guillen and cut Baltimore's lead to 4-2. But Roberts was able to get out of the inning when John Flaherty popped up to first for the third out.

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