- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) | It must be the hair.

On a night Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon dyed his silver hair black, Gabe Gross hit a two-run homer, and Pat Burrell and B.J. Upton added solo shots to lead the Rays past the Baltimore Orioles 5-4 on Tuesday.

Maddon’s color change was in preparation for next week’s Johnny Cash-themed road trip and was an attempt to keep his team loose.

“I felt we were way too uptight around here,” Maddon said. “More than anything, we have not been really relishing in victory, and I think we’ve been like too painful in defeat. We’ve just got to go out there and play. Understand it’s a game. We got to the World Series last year by being kind of free-spirited about the whole thing. The black hair is symbolic of all those different items.”

Gross gave Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead with his fourth-inning drive. Burrell and Upton homered in the sixth to make it 5-2.

Gross homered for the first time since July 22 and has two homers in his last 33 games. Upton’s last one came June 30.

The up-and-down Rays have won three straight after a five-game losing streak.

“I think we should just forget everything that’s happened up to this point,” Upton said. “Hopefully that means we can get going down the stretch.”

Baltimore got a two-run homer from Matt Wieters. The Orioles are 8-23 since the All-Star break and dropped to a season-high 23 games under .500 (48-71).

Rays left-hander David Price (6-5) threw 102 pitches in five innings, allowing two runs and seven hits. J.P. Howell, who agreed with Maddon’s assessment, pitched the ninth for his 13th save.

“It gets dry,” Howell said. “We’re grinding it out, but sometimes you need a little boost. I think we’re all in.”

Baltimore starter Jason Berken (2-11) gave up five runs and 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

“The ball started fading over the plate, and against good power hitters high balls are no good,” Berken said.

The Orioles took a 2-1 lead in the third on run-scoring singles by Adam Jones and Nolan Reimold. Wieters’ fourth homer of the season and first since July 5 pulled Baltimore within 5-4 in the eighth.

Wieters struck out with runners on first and second and two outs in the ninth.

“We left too many guys on base and didn’t get the big hit when needed,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said.

The Orioles left 13 on base and went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

Upton put the Rays ahead 1-0 with an infield RBI single in the second.

Baltimore’s Nick Markakis reached base for the 38th straight game, the longest active streak in the majors, when he singled in the second. It gave him an 11-game hitting streak.

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