Tejada's start has rough end


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada was as responsible as anyone for yesterday's 10-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and he knew it.

He made two errors. He went 0-for-4 at the plate and he stranded four runners.

"It's a long season, and there are going to be days like that," said Tejada, who played in his 601st consecutive game, stretching the longest active streak in the majors.

With a quick glance at the statistics, Tejada's first week as an Oriole appears fairly successful. Despite his struggles yesterday, he's hitting .300 and those were his first two errors.

But Tejada, who has averaged 117 RBIs during the past four seasons, has yet to drive home a run in seven games and he is 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

As a team, the Orioles went hitless in the first eight at-bats with runners in scoring position yesterday. Tejada set the tone when he struck out in the first inning with leadoff man Brian Roberts on second, swinging through three pitches by Devil Rays starter Victor Zambrano.

Tejada took his position and made a fine play up the middle to steal a single from the speedy Carl Crawford. But he made a throwing error on the next ball hit to him and that led to an unearned run.

He also grounded out to end the seventh inning with two runners aboard after Melvin Mora had finally put the Orioles on the scoreboard with a run-scoring single.

Still, Tejada is off to a better start than last season, when he hit just .161 during April before rebounding to finish at .278.

"There's a lot of games left," he said. "We can't start worrying about what happened [yesterday]."

Same starting nine

Seven games into the season, the Orioles' lineup hasn't changed much.

Even yesterday, with a day game after a night game, manager Lee Mazzilli went with his Opening Night lineup.

"I told you, I'm a creature of habit," Mazzilli said. "There's going to be changes here and there, but for the most part, if the guys are healthy, this is the way we're going to go."

Javy Lopez was the designated hitter Friday and caught the final two games of the series. The Orioles have a day off today, so Mazzilli checked with Lopez, just to be sure he was OK and put him back behind the plate yesterday.

Lopez entered the game leading the majors in hitting and went 1-for-3, lowering his average to .577. He went 7-for-12 in the series but put part of the blame on himself after letting three wild pitches from John Parrish get past him during the final two innings.

"I definitely could have been more aggressive," Lopez said. "I don't know what to say, but they were hard pitches to block."

Naimoli's fury

The Devil Rays might be the only team in baseball with a policy prohibiting writers from bringing outside food into the press box, and they're serious about it.

Club owner Vincent Naimoli enforced the policy himself Saturday, when a Sun reporter committed a flagrant violation. The offending reporter, who shall remain nameless, purchased a pizza at a concession stand and attempted to eat it at his press box seat.

After a brief exchange with the reporter, Naimoli threatened to have his credential removed. Naimoli turned the investigation over to his public relations director and stormed off to continue running his perennial last-place team.

Parity in the East?

Checking the standings entering yesterday, no team in the American League East was above .500. The Orioles, Devil Rays and Boston Red Sox were in a three-way tie for first at 3-3.

It marked the first time since May 24, 1989, that no AL East team was above .500 after each had played six games. That day, less than two months into their "Why Not?" season, the Orioles were tied for first with Boston at 21-21.

Around the horn

The Orioles will resume this nine-game trip tomorrow in Boston with Kurt Ainsworth facing Derek Lowe. Sidney Ponson opposes Tim Wakefield on Wednesday and Matt Riley goes against Pedro Martinez on Thursday. ... Tampa Bay now leads its all-time series with the Orioles 50-47.

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