CHICAGO - -Felix Pie's role in the Orioles' first back-to-back wins in three weeks threatened to go unnoticed because of Brian Roberts' sudden power surge. However, Orioles manager Dave Trembley wouldn't let that happen.
After Thursday's and Friday's victories, Trembley, who was highly critical of the outfielder earlier this season and played him sparingly, singled out Pie for his contributions. In the Orioles' 8-7 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, Pie drew a key walk to load the bases and knock starter James Shields out of the game. Roberts then greeted former Orioles reliever Lance Cormier with a grand slam.
On Friday, Pie had three hits, including a one-out eighth-inning single ahead of Roberts' two-run homer off Chicago White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (Mount St. Joseph). Pie, who struck out as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning Saturday night against Chicago, had started three straight games, going 5-for-10 in those contests.
"The first thing he did was he tempered his approach and he got a whole lot more acceptance in the clubhouse from the players and coaches," Trembley said. "Two, I think he had to establish some patience and persistence, and his work ethic with [hitting coach Terry Crowley] has been very good.
"His swing at times is still long, but he's cut it down. He's not so apt to swing at first pitches as much as he used to. He's hit more ground balls, which utilizes his speed. I think all-in-all, he's just been better with everything."
Overall, Pie is hitting .324 (12-for-37) in August with five RBIs and nine runs, justifying the organization's decision to give him more playing time in the second half. With the trade of Aubrey Huff and Nolan Reimold's nagging injuries, Pie has gotten 37 at-bats this month, three more than he had in June and July combined.
"My confidence is better now because I'm playing more now and I'm hitting better," said Pie, whose average is .314 since the All-Star break. "I'm not worrying about anything now. The only thing I worry about is get a good pitch and swing at strikes and get on base. In the beginning, times were a little tough, but now I'm OK."
Trembley acknowledged that rookie left fielder Reimold is playing with a chronic condition in his left Achilles tendon that might require a medical procedure this offseason.
"The guy looks like 'The Ice Man Cometh' sometimes. He's got ice on his knee, his foot, his shoulder, his hamstring, his Achilles. It's everywhere, and he doesn't say one word," Trembley said. "I think in the offseason he'll probably get something done. He's a pretty tough kid. He's got a 25 percent tear in his Achilles, and he runs like he runs. That's why I've tried to get him off his feet sometimes, but just DHing him and not playing him in the outfield. He's a good player."
Asked whether it's possible Reimold could be shut down early, Trembley said: "There's no talk about shutting him down, not at all. I think he's had this for a long time. I don't think this is something that happened in June or July. He's played through it since spring training. But I think it's a point where they are going to look at it at the end of the year."
At home in the ninth
It wasn't a save situation when Chris Ray entered Friday's game in the ninth inning with the Orioles holding a 5-1 lead. Nonetheless, Trembley viewed Ray's performance as another significant step forward in the reliever's return to a late-inning role.
Ray, the Orioles' closer before missing the entire 2008 season after having ligament-reconstruction surgery on his right elbow, retired the White Sox in order in the ninth, punctuating the outing by blowing a fastball past Alexei Ramirez to end the game.
Entering this month with a 9.28 ERA, Ray has surrendered just one earned run in nine August outings spanning 12 2/3 innings.
"It's been an awful long time for him," Trembley said. "The way he threw the ball was vintage Chris Ray. He had command and stuff. That's great for him and great for us."
Around the horn
Dennis Sarfate (circulatory condition) finished another phase of his minor league rehabilitation by pitching a scoreless inning for Triple-A Norfolk on Friday. He's expected to pitch a couple of simulated games and side sessions before rejoining the Orioles when rosters expand Sept. 1. ... Roberts has 46 doubles and is on pace to have the first 60-double season by any player since 1936, when both the St. Louis Cardinals' Joe Medwick (64) and the Detroit Tigers' Charlie Gehringer (60) reached that mark.