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Perez singles home winning run

4/9/2004

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Jose Cruz Jr. gave Tampa Bay a
chance with his glove. Then pinch-hitters Robert Fick and Eduardo
Perez won it for the Devil Rays with their bats.

Perez singled home the winning run in the 10th inning Friday
night, leading the Devil Rays over the Baltimore Orioles 4-3.

An athletic catch by Cruz in the ninth made it all possible.

With two outs and the Devil Rays down 3-2, Cruz made a running,
back-handed catch on Larry Bigbie's liner to right with the bases
loaded.

"That one there was three runs ... game over," Tampa Bay
manager Lou Piniella said. "The ball was in the gap. He got a real
good jump on it. That's a major league outfield play."

Cruz was looking for Bigbie, who was ahead in the count, to try
and pull the ball.

"I thought I had a chance right when he hit it," said Cruz,
who won a Gold Glove last season with San Francisco.

"He saved the game right there and gave them a boost of
confidence," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Tampa Bay then tied it at 3 in the bottom of the ninth when Fick
had his first career pinch-hit homer, a one-out drive off Jorge
Julio.

"I knew I hit it good," Fick said. "I just didn't know if I
hit it good enough."

Cruz opened the 10th by drawing a walk from John Parrish (0-1)
and advanced on a sacrifice by pinch-hitter Damian Rolls. After
Rocco Baldelli was intentionally walked, Perez lined an 0-1 pitch
to center.

"The outcome wasn't what we wanted," Parrish said. "But
that's not going to happen too many times."

Tampa Bay closer Danys Baez (1-0) pitched 1 2-3 scoreless
innings, working out of a bases-loaded jam to get the final two
outs in the ninth.

"If we can get used to playing hard all nine innings, anything
can happen," Perez said.

Javy Lopez hit a two-run homer during a three-run fourth inning
for the Orioles.

Lopez went 2-for-4 and has 10 hits in 18 at-bats this season. It
was his second homer of the season -- the other was off Pedro
Martinez in Sunday's opener.

The Orioles were coming off a 3-2, 13-inning win Thursday night
over Boston at Camden Yards.

Baltimore's Sidney Ponson, who beat Martinez last Sunday, gave
up two runs, three hits and five walks in 6 2-3 innings. Mark
Hendrickson allowed three runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings.

Aubrey Huff put the Devil Rays up 1-0 with an RBI grounder in
the third.

Baltimore tied it on a fourth-inning sacrifice fly by Rafael
Palmeiro. Lopez followed with a two-run homer on a 3-0 pitch.

Tampa Bay loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth but scored
just once.

After Julio Lugo singled and Huff and Cruz drew walks, Tino
Martinez grounded into a run-scoring double play on the next pitch
and Baldelli struck out.

Baldelli also fouled out against Rodrigo Lopez with two outs in
the eighth, stranding two. Baldelli, dropped to sixth in the lineup
for the first time in his career, went 0-for-4 and is hitting .143.

"He's struggling a little bit," Piniella said. "I think he's
feeling for the ball. Let it go. Let the buttons pop from the
shirt."

Tampa Bay went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position through
eight innings.

The announced crowd was 12,123. The Devil Rays averaged 36,712
during a two-game series Tuesday and Wednesday against the New York
Yankees.

Game notes
After the game, the Orioles designated DH Jack Cust for
assignment. LHP Erik Bedard was added to the roster and will start
Saturday's game. ... Piniella said Fick will likely be in the
lineup a lot against right-handed pitching. ... Baltimore leadoff
hitter Brian Roberts ended a season-opening 0-for-16 slide with a
fourth-inning single that hit Hendrickson's glove. The ball wound
up in shallow right field. ... Hendrickson retired nine straight
before Roberts single. ... Tampa Bay left-handed starters won only
four times in 32 starts last season and were winless in their last
15 starts after Joe Kennedy beat Toronto last May 13. ... The
Orioles started a 10-day, nine-game road trip.