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Orioles Fly Out of Tampa With a Win

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Erik Bedard finds it easier to pitch with a big lead. Then again, he's been making it look pretty easy regardless.

Bedard overcame a slow start to win his career-best eighth consecutive decision, and the Orioles pounded the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 11-3 on Sunday.

Miguel Tejada, Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora homered for the Orioles, who are 14-8 since the All-Star break. Baltimore is 10-2 against Tampa Bay this season.

"It's easier when you have run support," Bedard said. "You put 10 runs on the board, it makes it a little easier to pitch. There's a big difference there between three and 10."

Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton homered for the Devil Rays, who are 9-28 since June 25. Tampa Bay has allowed 10 or more runs in 20 games this season.

Bedard (12-4) is 8-0 in his last 10 starts since losing to Colorado on June 10. The AL pitcher of the month for July, Bedard allowed three runs in the first three innings but didn't allow another one until leaving with two outs in the seventh.

Bedard has struck out 10 or more six times this year.

"It's a battle every time I pitch against them," Bedard said. "I was throwing good pitches for strikes and they were hitting them."

Bedard scattered nine hits and struck out 11, extending his major league-leading total to 192 this season.

"Even at his worse he's pretty dominant," Huff said. "Today he didn't even have his good fastball, and he was still throwing right by guys."

Tejada hit a solo homer and Nick Markakis had a two-run single during a six-run fourth off Andy Sonnanstine (1-7) as the Orioles took a 7-3 lead. Brian Roberts added an RBI single and Corey Patterson drove in a run with a double.

Sonnanstine has lost seven straight decisions over a 10-start span. He gave up seven runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Huff's homer and a two-run single by Patterson off Casey Fossum extended the Orioles' advantage to 10-3 in the fifth. Mora homered in the ninth.

Crawford, Tampa Bay's lone All-Star this year, celebrated his 26th birthday by putting the Devil Rays ahead 1-0 on a first-inning homer. Baltimore tied it at 1-all one inning later on Jay Payton's RBI grounder.

"Everything but the win," said Crawford, when went 4-for-5. "You can't give a guy like him [Bedard] seven runs to work with and expect to win. We just fell too far behind. You've got a guy like that, it's always going to be tough. I'm pretty sure he brought his good stuff out when he recognized he had a big lead like that."

Crawford singled in third and scored on Upton's homer that made it 3-1. Upton has six homers and 18 RBIs in 22 games since returning from a strained left quadriceps on July 13.

"We got off to a wonderful start today," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "It's too bad Andy didn't have one of his better days, because we really thought we had a pretty good chance. We came out with a lot of energy, and then the six-run inning kind of deflated us."

The Devil Rays loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but failed to score when Orioles reliever Chad Bradford struck out Carlos Pena.

Game notes
The Orioles reinstated Mora (left mid-foot sprain) from the 15-day disabled list and optioned INF Luis Hernandez to Double-A Bowie. ... Crawford, who entered hitting just .222 (10-for-45) against Bedard, went 3-for-4 against him Sunday. ... Bedard has allowed 19 homers in 154 1/3 innings this season. ... Sonnanstine has given up 12 homers in his 12 starts. ... Devil Rays 3B Akinori Iwamura struck out in all four at-bats against Bedard. C Josh Paul was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts against the left-hander. ... Iwamura singled in the ninth off Danys Baez to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games. ... Mora has 132 career homers, 24 coming against Tampa Bay.


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