ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - For Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella, this isn't Seattle anymore, and if he needed another reminder, it came last night against the Orioles.
The Devil Rays provided Piniella with a fitting introduction to their most heated rivalry - the battle to avoid the American League East basement.
Piniella can only hope this isn't as good as it gets.
The Orioles jumped to a six- run lead, Tampa Bay's starter was gone by the second inning, and the scrappy Devil Rays came all the way back to tie the score.
Then things really got interesting.
The Orioles took the lead on Geronimo Gil's homer in the 10th inning, but the Devil Rays came back again, scoring two controversial runs to win it, 8-7, before 9,723 at Tropicana Field.
With the win, Tampa Bay evened its all-time series with the Orioles, 38-38.
Pinch hitter Ben Grieve led off the Tampa Bay 10th with a double off the left-field wall off Orioles closer Jorge Julio. The ball landed about a foot underneath the yellow home run line. Carl Crawford beat out an infield single and Rocco Baldelli advanced both runners with a bunt.
Julio walked Aubrey Huff intentionally, loading the bases.
Then Marlon Anderson hit a chopper to Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston.
After bobbling the ball, Hairston tried to get the forceout at second, but shortstop Deivi Cruz lost contact with the bag too early.
Grieve scored the tying run, and the bases were still loaded with one out. Orioles manager Mike Hargrove came out to argue with second base umpire Joe West and then stopped to talk to Julio at the mound.
This posed a problem. Orioles pitching coach Mark Wiley had already been out to talk with Julio, so this constituted the second mound visit. Under baseball rules, the Orioles had to make a pitching change.
Hargrove had to turn to Buddy Groom, who hadn't even warmed up yet. Travis Lee hit a comebacker that glanced off Groom's glove, and past the drawn-in infield, and Crawford crossed with the winning run.
The Orioles were less opportunistic when they had a chance to win it in the ninth.
The Orioles put runners at the corners on back-to-back singles by David Segui and Jeff Conine off Devil Rays reliever Lance Carter. Jose Morban came in to pinch run for Segui on third base and never scored.
After Jay Gibbons grounded out to first base and Tony Batista was intentionally walked to load the bases, pinch hitter B.J. Surhoff grounded to first. Lee grabbed the ball, touched first base and fired home in time to catch Morban, the umpire ruled.
For the Devil Rays, this three- game series came as a welcome diversion, sandwiched in between 13 consecutive contests against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
Devil Rays starter Jim Parque, the former Chicago White Sox pitcher, was 4-0 against the Orioles entering last night. But this time, things unraveled in a hurry.
The Orioles scored five first- inning runs. It was 6-0 by the second, and with two outs in that inning, Piniella turned to his bullpen.
In eight games this season, his starting pitchers have posted a 9.24 ERA.
Tampa Bay's relievers (42 innings) have pitched more than its starters (38 innings).
The Orioles" starting pitching experience figures to separate them from the Devil Rays this season, but on this night, Omar Daal was shaky, too.
After stranding four runners on base over the first three innings, he took the 6-0 lead into the fourth, when Tampa Bay struck for four runs.
Daal finished five innings, leaving with a 6-4 lead, which put him in line for his first win as an Oriole. Daal allowed eight hits, two walks and three earned runs, leaving his ERA at 7.15.
After getting outscored 33-19 on their six-game homestand to start the season, the Orioles came out strong last night. Jeff Conine bowled over Devil Rays catcher Toby Hall for the third run in the first-inning rally, giving the Orioles early inspiration.
It came with one out in the first, and the Orioles leading 1-0, Gibbons hit a bouncer down the third base line. Damion Easley, playing third base for the first time in seven years, fielded the ball, touched third base for the first out and tried firing across the diamond for the double play.
But Easley's throw sailed past Lee for an error.
Conine started the play on first base, and with Easley's throw bouncing in foul territory, Conine raced around third attempting to score. Tampa Bay right fielder Damian Rolls bounced his throw home, and Conine clobbered Hall as the ball arrived.
Parque was rattled, and the Orioles took advantage. Batista and Marty Cordova walked, loading the bases with two outs. Cruz followed with a three-run double, stretching the lead to 5-0.
Segui made it 6-0 with a run- scoring single in the second, and the Orioles looked like they might cruise to their first easy victory of the season.
Daal breezed through the first inning, and retired the first four Tampa Bay batters on 13 pitches, throwing a first-pitch strike to each one. After two innings, he led 6-0 and had four strikeouts.
After three innings, he had stranded four runners on base and still led 6-0.
But Tampa Bay finally got to Daal in the fourth, scoring four runs. The Devil Rays had five hits off Daal in the inning, including Rolls" two-run single. Terry Shumpert hit a deep fly ball to left field, ending the inning with two runners on base.
The Devil Rays scored two runs off reliever Rick Bauer to tie the score in the sixth inning.