Roberts, Markakis lead Orioles past Rays

By Fred Goodall

Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 1 2011 7:40 p.m. MDT

New bases for the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays wait to be put in place before an baseball game Friday, April 1, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Chris O'Meara, Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jeremy Guthrie allowed three hits in eight shutout innings while outpitching David Price, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis each drove in two runs and the Baltimore Orioles opened the season with a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.

Taking up where they left off during a nice two-month stretch to end last season under manager Buck Showalter, the Orioles ruined a festive evening in which the defending AL East champions hoisted their latest division title banner at Tropicana Field.

And, they did it with Guthrie outdoing last year's AL Cy Young Award runner-up. Rays newcomers Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, meanwhile, each went 0 for 4.

Roberts hit a two-run triple off Price in the fifth and scored on Markakis' sacrifice fly. Markakis also had an RBI single in the third.

Ben Zobrist homered in the ninth for Tampa Bay.

In his third opening day start in four years, Guthrie returned 13 batters in a row between Dan Johnson's second-inning double and Zobrist's single leading off the sixth. B.J. Upton double leading off the eighth for Tampa Bay's third hit.

Zobrist homered on the first pitch of the ninth off Jim Johnson. The Orioles reliever struck out Damon and Evan Longoria, then got Ramirez to ground out to finish the combined four-hitter.

A sellout crowd of 34,078 — the sixth straight for a home opener at Tropicana Field — booed Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The fans stood and cheered wildly as the Rays' 2010 AL East flag was raised to the left-field catwalk alongside banners recognizing the team's 2008 division and league championship.

Before the game, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon reflected on how far the franchise has come since he was hired after the 2005 season and helped transform a last-place team into a contender.

"I think at that time if I had spoken too loudly about" the prospect of winning championships "people would have thought I truly was crazy," Maddon said.

With his first opening day assignment, Price became the 13th pitcher in major league history to start an opener, an All-Star game and a postseason game by the age of 25 — a select group that also includes Whitey Ford, Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens, Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela, Robin Roberts, Don Drysdale and Bret Saberhagen. Tom Glavine was the last to do it 20 years ago.

The hard-throwing lefty allowed four runs and five hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out seven, while losing to the Orioles for the first time in five career decisions.

The Orioles' lineup featured four players — Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy — who've joined the team since the end of a 13th consecutive losing season.

But they are just part of the reason Baltimore is excited heading into the season. The team is also hoping build off 34-23 record it compiled after Showalter took over last August. That late run didn't enable the Orioles to escape the AL East cellar, but they did begin to build some confidence.

NOTES: Ramirez made his 18th consecutive opening day start, the second-longest streak among active players behind Washington's Ivan Rodriguez (20). Damon has started 14 straight openers. ... Baltimore LHP Brian Matusz was scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday because of soreness on the left side of his mid-back. ... A moment of silence was observed for three St. Petersburg police officers who have been killed in the line of duty this year.

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