Mora, Orioles Take Down Devil Rays

Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella watches his Devil Rays fall to Baltimore, 7-6. Prior to Friday night's game Piniella announced that he will not return as Tampa's manager next season. (Steve Nesius - AP)
Associated Press
Friday, September 30, 2005; 10:18 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Lou Piniella's final weekend as Devil Rays manager got off to a rough start.

Melvin Mora hit a two-run homer, and the Baltimore Orioles beat Tampa Bay 7-6 Friday night, hours after it was announced that Piniella would not return as Devil Rays manager.

"It's definitely sad seeing Lou go," Devil Rays second baseman Jorge Cantu said. "That's his decision. But with this group of guys, we're really hungry to have a winning record. It's just a matter of us sticking together."

Aubrey Huff hit a three-run homer for Tampa Bay (67-93). The Devil Rays are 39-32 since the All-Star break.

"We've got a new ownership group taking over. They need to bring in their own manager that they can grow with," Piniella said. "At the same time, it'll give me time to go home and relax, fish and play some golf. I'm tired. I need some time off. It'll give me a chance to do those things, and at the same time to evaluate and look at situations that might arise about my future."

Mora has homered in five of his last nine games. Eric Dubose (2-3) allowed one hit in 3 1-3 scoreless innings for his first win since Aug. 17, and B.J. Ryan pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 40 opportunities.

The decision on Piniella had long been expected after he questioned ownership's commitment to winning.

Piniella had one season remaining on a $13 million, four-year contract he signed in October 2002. According to terms of the buyout, he will be free to pursue other jobs after Sunday's finale.

Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo was a coach when Piniella managed Cincinnati and Seattle.

"I'm sure the last three years have been tough," Perlozzo said. "He's such a competitor. He's a winner. If he wants to sit out a year he will. If he wants to manage, someone will go get him."

The Orioles are 21-32 under Perlozzo, who could learn his status for next season by early next week. Baltimore's win was its second in the last 13 games.

Luis Matos hit a two-run double during a three-run first for Baltimore. Jonny Gomes drove in a run with a double as Tampa Bay pulled within 3-2 in the bottom half.

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