Orioles 9, Devil Rays 7

-- The Baltimore Orioles scored eight runs in the second inning and right-handed starter Jason Johnson proved adequate as they held off last place Tampa Bay, 9-7, before a crowd of 19,545 on a damp, chilly evening at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The victory was the Orioles' third straight, but it provided only a temporary relief for a team that could struggle further if it must do without David Segui for an extended period of time.

Baltimore's fears were realized this afternoon when Segui, its injury-prone designated hitter who is batting a team-high .441, came limping into the clubhouse with a bandage wound tightly around his right hamstring. Segui pulled the muscle midway between home plate and first base in the eighth inning of Baltimore's 6-4 victory Thursday in Cleveland while running out a ground ball.

This is the latest in a string of health problems for Segui, who missed the first four games of this season with a thumb fracture and much of the previous two years with a litany of injuries, ranging from a sore left knee to vertigo. In all, Segui, who is in the third year of a $28 million contract, has been on the disabled list eight times in his career, and four times the past three seasons.

Segui is officially listed as day-to-day, but both Segui and Manager Mike Hargrove acknowledged that the unpredictable nature of hamstring pulls makes it hard to say when he might be ready to return. Tonight, Marty Cordova was the designated hitter, and B.J. Surhoff was in left field.

"It's a little worse than we thought last night, which is generally the case with these things," Hargrove said before tonight's game. "You never know how long these things are going to take. David plays all out every game, and sometimes things happen like this. Thank God it's not that serious."

Segui, who described his hamstring as "sore and tight, but not torn" added: "There's nothing encouraging about this. I don't even know what to say. I'm frustrated, I'm sick of this. . . . This is the best I've been running the past seven years. My knees didn't hurt, the thumb thing is gone. And now this.

"The last two years I've had to listen to the village idiots question my desire to play. I'm just sick of it. I've had injuries my whole career, but I've never had this freak [stuff] happen. Hopefully, it won't be something that lingers for long."

Segui's took a shot of cortisone and anti-inflammatory drugs this afternoon to help with the injury.

"Obviously, it's a big blow," Jeff Conine said. "David can flat-out hit. Without that presence in the middle of the lineup, it hurts us. It gives the opposing pitcher a comfort zone and we don't score as many runs. . . . Hopefully, we'll get him back soon."

Johnson, who yielded four runs on eight hits in six innings, improved to 2-0. He did just enough to maintain the big lead his teammates produced.

"After an eight-run inning, I just lost my focus," Johnson said. "I gave up four runs but at least I got through six innings. I felt really good the first two innings but I could not regain my control."

The Orioles (7-8) broke out for eight runs in the second inning when they sent 12 batters to the plate. Baltimore was aided by Tampa Bay starter Victor Zambrano (0-2), who walked four batters and hit another.

In the decisive inning, Tony Batista drove in a pair of runs with a hard-hit single and also scored; Conine knocked in one and scored twice; and Gary Matthews Jr., Jerry Hairston and Cordova also drove in runs to help the Orioles take an 8-0 lead.

Tampa Bay (5-11) cut its deficit to 8-2 on a two-run homer by shortstop Rey Ordonez in the third inning, and they pulled within 8-3 in the fourth on an RBI single by third baseman Damion Easley that brought home Al Martin.

The Devil Rays got a little closer in the sixth, trimming the Baltimore lead to 8-4. Marlon Anderson's single drove in Rocco Baldelli, however, the inning would have been over had Orioles catcher Geronimo Gil not dropped a pop foul behind the plate.

Batista's solo home run in the seventh gave the Orioles a 9-4 lead, which almost wasn't enough. In the top of the ninth, Tampa Bay's Toby Hall hit a three-run homer off reliever Rick Bauer, who had walked the first two batters, to get the Devil Rays to 9-7. But the Orioles were bailed out by closer Jorge Julio, who retired the next three in a row to end the game.

"It was a little closer than it should have been," Hargrove said. "[Bauer] just lost his release point or something, but thankfully we scored enough runs early on."

Orioles Note: Right-hander Rodrigo Lopez, who left his last start with a split fingernail on the middle finger of his throwing hand, said this afternoon he will start Saturday's matinee against the Devil Rays.

Starter Jason Johnson, given 8-0 lead, winds up allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits in six innings. Devil Rays' Rey Ordonez, who also hit two-run homer off Jason Johnson in third inning, singles in fifth.