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Another late run wins it for Rays

RAYS 10, ORIOLES 7: Rocco Baldelli's triple breaks the tie as Tampa Bay overcomes more starting pitching problems.

By TOM JONES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 10, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG -- Down, but never out. Behind, but never discouraged. Trailing, but rarely for long.

The Devil Rays will need something akin to a miracle to make any serious noise in the American League this season, but they already have shown they aren't going to go away quietly on any given night.

The season is a mere nine games old, but already the Rays are building a reputation for producing rallies rather than sighs when they fall behind.

For the fourth time this season, the Rays clawed out of an early hole Wednesday and pulled out a 10-7 victory over the Baltimore Orioles before 9,650 at Tropicana Field.

In fact, the Rays are getting so good at comebacks, they did it twice Wednesday, overcoming four- and three-run deficits in the same game for the first time in franchise history.

This came one night after the Rays won a game in which they trailed 6-0.

"We're never out of it," outfielder Damian Rolls said. "The mentality from the bench is if somebody picks a fight with us, you just don't sit there and let them kick your (rear). You start fighting back. That's the type of mentality this team has. We might get down early, but we got to fight back. You just can't lay there and get stomped."

The Rays' rope-a-dope style has produced different stars each game. In the three previous victories, walkoff hits were provided by Carl Crawford, Al Martin and Travis Lee.

On Wednesday, the offensive spark was provided by Marlon Anderson, who tied a career mark with four RBIs, including a three-run homer that helped the Rays erase an early 4-0 deficit.

When the Orioles went ahead 7-4, the Rays roared back to tie on run-scoring hits by Rocco Baldelli and Aubrey Huff in the fifth. Baldelli provided the go-ahead run with a run-scoring triple during a two-run seventh and Crawford added insurance with a run-scoring single in the eighth.

"Every night it seems like somebody else is doing the job," Huff said. "It's a good feeling knowing there's no pressure on any one guy. It doesn't matter how many runs they score, we have the will to come back, and we know we can do it -- 6-0, 4-0, we're not going to stop."

The Rays fell behind early after an uneven start by Nick Bierbrodt, who allowed seven runs -- five earned -- and nine hits in 41/3 innings.

But, as has been the Rays' custom, the bullpen put out the fires and sparked a victory.

Reliever Al Levine, signed to a minor-league contract in the spring and called up Wednesday when starter Jim Parque went on the disabled list, made a smashing debut with the Rays. He allowed no hits in 22/3 innings to pick up the victory.

Lance Carter pitched a perfect ninth in the Rays' first save opportunity of the season.

"Everybody is doing their part, everybody is trying to contribute," Anderson said. "The feeling here is we just want to give ourselves a chance to win. That's the attitude."

And as Rolls said, "You got to like that attitude -- an attitude that never allows us to quit no matter what."

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  • Rays may gamble on Rocker
  • Shoulder discomfort forces Parque to DL

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