Piniella ends Devil Rays tenure with loss to Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Lou Piniella era in Tampa Bay
ended in familiar fashion -- with a loss.

Bruce Chen pitched six strong innings and backup catcher Sal
Fasano homered for the second consecutive day, leading the
Baltimore Orioles past Tampa Bay 6-2 Sunday in Piniella's finale as
Devil Rays manager.

Piniella had one season remaining on a $13 million, four-year
contract he signed in October 2002 but will be free to pursue other
jobs under the buyout announced Friday. He received a big ovation
and shouts of "Lou" when he walked back toward the dugout after
bringing out the lineup card before the game. He took off his hat
and waved it toward the fans.

"It's not easy, but it's the right thing," Piniella said. "I
wouldn't deviate from my decision. I'm perfectly content with it.
Now I'll relax, play some golf and fish and do the things I want to
do, and evaluate opportunities if they come and when they come."

The Devil Rays finished the season 67-95, three wins shy of the
team record set last year.

"It's going to be a little different because I've been here
with Lou for the past three years and I've gotten used to his
ways," Tampa Bay left fielder Carl Crawford said. "Lou is
somebody who wants to win every game, every day. That's the
attitude he brings."

Tampa Bay went 39-34 after the All-Star break but finished with
a four-game losing streak.

"I think the situation with this ballclub is in much better
shape than when I came here," Piniella said. "Now the new
ownership can come in and bring in their guy, and I can go do what
I need to do."

Piniella went 200-285 with Tampa Bay, which has the lowest
payroll in the majors. In his 19 years overall -- which include
winning a World Series in 1990 at Cincinnati -- he is 1,519-1,420.

"When I came here, I didn't come here to retire," Piniella
said. "I did the best I could from a professional standpoint. I'm
proud of some of the things we accomplished. It's not easy to lose,
especially when you've won your whole life. It's not enjoyable to
lose. That's what I tried to instill here and hopefully that's been

Baltimore went 22-32 under interim manager Sam Perlozzo, who
probably will find out in the next few days if he will get the
fulltime job for next season. Perlozzo replaced Lee Mazzilli on
Aug. 4.

"I truly believe they'll make a decision this week," Perlozzo
said. "There's nothing else I can do. I'm proud how we hung in
there these last two months."

The Orioles (74-88) ended the year with a three-game sweep over
Tampa Bay. In a season in which Rafael Palmeiro was suspended for
using steroids and Sammy Sosa was hobbled by injury, the Orioles
finished with a losing record for the eighth straight season, the
worst stretch for the franchise since the St. Louis Browns/Orioles
had 11 in a row from 1946-56.

Chen (13-10) gave up two runs and eight hits. Fasano tied it at
2 on a two-run homer in the fifth off Tim Corcoran.

Bernie Castro gave Baltimore a 3-2 lead with an RBI single off
Jesus Colome (2-3) in the seventh. Melvin Mora hit a solo homer and
Jay Gibbons had a two-run shot in the eighth against Joe Borowski
that extended the Orioles advantage to 6-2.

Alex Gonzalez put the Devil Rays up 1-0 on an RBI single in the
first. Damon Hollins' third-inning homer made it 2-0.

Corcoran gave up two runs and two hits over 4 1/3 innings in his
first career major league start. He didn't allow a hit until Luis
Matos led off the fifth with a single.

The announced attendance was 17,450. Tampa Bay finished last in
the majors with a home attendance of 1,141,669.

Game notes
Tampa Bay 2B Jorge Cantu missed the game with flulike
symptoms. ... Orioles C Javy Lopez did not start for the second
straight game because of food poisoning, but pinch-hit and struck
out in the ninth. ... Fasano's last three homers came against Tampa
Bay. He also homered in consecutive games July 14-15 at Seattle.
... Mora homered in seven of his last 11 games.