- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) — Brian Roberts put the exclamation point on the Baltimore Orioles’ remarkable April.

Roberts hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning and the Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-5 on yesterday for their seventh straight victory.

“When you’ve had six or seven losing seasons, you need something to build confidence early,” Roberts said. “The way we’ve been playing, everybody seems to get big hits.”

Miguel Tejada homered for the third consecutive game and had three RBI and B.J. Surhoff also hit a home run for the Orioles, whose winning streak is their longest since taking eight straight from Aug. 3-10, 2004.

An offensive surge from Tejada and Roberts helped Baltimore to 16 April wins. That matched the club record set in 1969, when the Orioles went to the World Series, and equaled in 1997, when they went wire-to-wire to win the American League East.

Roberts, who entered the season with 12 career homers, has eight this season. Tejada drove in 31 runs, breaking the franchise mark for April set by Mike Bordick in 2000.

“I don’t have an answer anymore. I’ve run out of stupid one-liners,” Roberts said when asked about his power numbers.

“I always said if [Roberts] hit eight to 10 for the year, that’s more than you’d look for,” Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli said. “But his home runs, they’ve been big home runs.”

Baltimore rallied from a 4-0 deficit to hand the Devil Rays their sixth straight loss, a season high. Tampa Bay fell to 1-9 on the road.

After Tejada’s two-run shot off Travis Harper (0-1) tied the game at 4-all in the seventh, the Orioles got three in the eighth.

Luis Matos led off with a single and moved to second on Surhoff’s sacrifice bunt. Rafael Palmeiro was intentionally walked and Geronimo Gil flied out to the warning track in right field.

Roberts then hit his high drive down the right-field line on a 1-0 pitch.

“This would have been a good win,” Harper said. “But unfortunately I wasn’t able to execute those things the way I would have liked to. That’s what you have to do, you have to execute. I pitched behind in the count and up in the zone, and basically threw somewhat of a flat pitch to a hitter who’s really hot with two guys on. And that’s a recipe for disaster right there.”

Todd Williams (3-0) got the win by getting the last out of the eighth inning. B.J. Ryan earned his fourth save, despite allowing a pinch homer by Jonny Gomes to lead off the ninth.

Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the first on Aubrey Huff’s RBI single, then expanded the lead to 4-0 with a three-run second against Sidney Ponson.

Travis Lee led off with a single and advanced to third on two groundouts before Charles Johnson drew a walk. Lee scored on Alex Sanchez’s single, and after a wild pitch moved the runners up, Carl Crawford, mired in a 3-for-30 slump, slapped a two-run single off the glove of diving first baseman Chris Gomez.

Tejada’s RBI single in the third cut the lead to 4-1 and Surhoff hit a 3-1 pitch from Mark Hendrickson over the wall in right field in the fourth for his second homer.

Hendrickson departed after five innings. He allowed two runs and six hits, walked two and struck out four.

Ponson went six-plus innings and gave up four runs and nine hits, walked three, struck out three, threw two wild pitches and hit a batter.

Notes — The Orioles are nine games over .500 for the first time since Aug. 22, 1998. … Johnson’s first-inning walk snapped the Devil Rays’ streak of 20 innings without a base on balls.

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