- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 2, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — After another one-sided loss, Tampa Bay slugger Aubrey Huff was fed up.

Miguel Tejada drove in three more runs and Erik Bedard pitched seven impressive innings, leading the Baltimore Orioles to a 13-2 victory over the Devil Rays yesterday.

Tampa Bay lost its sixth straight game before an announced crowd of 9,019. The Devil Rays (59-74), who have never won more than 69 games since joining the American League in 1998, have a payroll around $23million.

“For this organization to turn the corner, you’re going to have to spend and go out to get players in the offseason … be aggressive and go out there and get them,” Huff said. “Regardless of what happens or who we put on the field, I go out there and prepare to play. It’s tough to get up for a game when you come out here and there’s nobody in the stands. You get the same music playing all the time. It’s feeling like it’s ‘Groundhog Day’ here every day and nothing ever changes. You really want some changes here and it’s just not happening.”

The Devil Rays were outscored 31-8 by Baltimore in a span of three days.

“Every day is important to me,” Huff said. “I don’t care who you play. You don’t want to go out there and get embarrassed like we’ve been the past few days. It feels like you’re playing a high school game out there right now. It’s how bad it feels.”

Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said yesterday’s loss should be a wake-up call.

“If it doesn’t wake you up a little bit, well then, you’re going to sleep for a while,” Piniella said. “All I want these guys to do is play hard. I can accept anything else. That’s all I ask. If they don’t play, then I’m not going to be pleased.”

Tejada increased his AL-leading total to 121 RBI for the Orioles, who have won four straight following a 12-game losing streak. Jay Gibbons, Rafael Palmeiro, Melvin Mora, Geronimo Gil and B.J. Surhoff all drove in two runs apiece.

“Our offense has come together,” Mora said.

Surhoff went 8-for-15 and knocked in five runs during the Orioles’ first three-game sweep of Tampa Bay — home or away. He entered with just three hits in 34 at-bats.

Bedard (6-9) allowed one run and six hits. He was 1-5 in his previous seven starts, giving up 29 runs and 45 hits in 351/3 innings.

Dewon Brazelton (6-6) allowed six runs and seven hits in 61/3 innings, his second loss in eight decisions at home this season.

Meanwhile, the Devil Rays held meetings the past couple days about Hurricane Frances and have been in contact with major league baseball. Tampa Bay is scheduled to play host to a three-game series against Detroit this weekend, but those games could be postponed. A decision was expected today.

“The No.1 thought in our minds is safety,” Devil Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said. “Safety for our fans, our players and our employees.”

The Tigers are in St. Petersburg. They had an off day yesterday after completing a series at Kansas City on Wednesday.

Jose Cruz Jr. had a pair of RBI grounders for Tampa Bay.

Surhoff hit a run-scoring double and scored on Gibbons’ grounder as the Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Tejada extended Baltimore’s lead to 3-0 with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly.

The Devil Rays snapped a stretch of 15 scoreless innings when Cruz made it 3-1 with an RBI grounder in the sixth. He also drove in a run with an eighth-inning grounder.

The Orioles went up 8-1 with a five-run seventh. Tejada hit a run-scoring grounder, Palmeiro and Surhoff had RBI singles, and Gil drove in two with a double.

Tejada had a run-scoring single, Palmeiro hit a run-scoring grounder and Gibbons drove in a run with a double in a four-run eighth that put the Orioles ahead 12-1.

“The team is capable of getting a lot of runs,” Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Notes — Tampa Bay All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford (shoulder inflammation) was out of the lineup for the fourth straight game. He could return in the next few days. … Tejada has 42 RBI in his last 42 games. … Devil Rays catcher Toby Hall, a baserunner at first, was awarded second base when Bedard’s pitch in the dirt bounced and became lodged in Gil’s mask in the fifth.

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