Orioles 7, Devil Rays 6

Lou Piniella's final weekend as Devil Rays manager got off to a rough start.

Melvin Mora hit a two-run homer in Baltimore's 7-6 win on Friday night. Hours earlier, 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."

Mora has homered in five of his last nine games. Eric Dubose (2-3) gave up one hit in 31/3 scoreless innings for his first win since Aug. 17. B.J. Ryan pitched the ninth for his 35th save in 40 opportunities.

The decision on Piniella had 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.

Roberts Has Surgery

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts had surgery yesterday to replace a left elbow ligament and reattach a left arm tendon, injuries suffered during a collision last week against the Yankees.

"Everything went well," Perlozzo said.

Roberts is expected to recover by sometime during spring training.