Pena picks up where he left off in Rays' win
Three-run homer in first inning sets tone for sweep of Orioles
BALTIMORE -- Wednesday afternoon brought a nice ending to the beginning of a road trip.
Three-run homers were plentiful and the pitching pure textbook as the Rays took a 9-1 win over the Orioles with 10,248 watching at Camden Yards.
The Rays swept the three-game series, moving to 5-1 against Orioles on the season while starting their first road trip with a 3-0 mark before a four-game series against the Red Sox begins Friday night in Boston. The Rays achieved just one sweep on the road in 2009.
Meanwhile, the Orioles are off to a 1-8 start, their worst since 1988 when the club began the season 0-21. Wednesday's loss gave the Orioles their sixth consecutive defeat.
The ink on the previous night's box score was barely dry when Carlos Pena began the Rays' hit parade the way he had ended it in Tuesday night's 8-6 win over the Orioles: with a three-run homer.
Pena's homer provided the winning margin in the 10th inning Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the Rays' slugger hit Brad Bergesen's first pitch over the wall in left-center field, giving him three-run homers on consecutive swings.
"That's cool," Pena said with a smile. "Just glad we were able to get it started that way in the first inning. ... Those situations you try to be as calm as possible. Get a good pitch and put a good swing on the ball. And look what happened."
Orioles manager Dave Trembley elected to dodge Pena's power in his next at-bat by intentionally walking him with two outs in the third and a runner aboard. Instead, Trembley instructed Bergesen to pitch to B.J. Upton.
"I don't think anybody likes for a manager to call for an intentional walk [before you bat]," Upton said. "Obviously it's a little more incentive to go up there and have a good AB and do what you can."
Upton received further motivation from his teammates.
"I had Pat [Burrell] saying, 'Don't let him do it to you.' [Pena] throws the bat to the on-deck circle and said, 'Go get him,' and C.C.'s on third saying the same thing," Upton said, referring to Carl Crawford. "So I had three guys at the same time telling me the same thing. ... A lot of money talking to me right there."
Upton responded by hitting a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left-center field for his first home run of the season -- and the 50th of his career -- to give the Rays a 6-0 lead. In the seventh, Upton added his second homer of the season, a solo shot that went over the wall in right-center field to put the Rays up 9-1.
"I think that was the most satisfying thing, to have it be to left-center and to right-center," Upton said. "I think if I start to hit the ball that way, good things will happen."
Upton had an off year in 2009 and worked hard during the offseason and in Spring Training to refine his swing. Wednesday seemed to give him some affirmation that the work was worthwhile.
"I was getting a little nervous," Upton said with a little chuckle. "You put in all that work without getting any results. You can't rush it. You just have to let it happen. Hopefully today's a good start. And we have a couple of tough series coming up. So hopefully I can stay hot throughout those series and just carry it on through the year."
Not to be forgotten Wednesday was the contribution of Rays starter David Price, who looked sharp en route to his second win of the season. The left-hander allowed four hits and two walks while striking out seven. Miguel Tejada's solo home run in the fourth brought the only blemish to Price's line.
"I felt good," Price said. "Our offense, that was their game today. That was huge when they put up three runs in the first. Any starter is going to want at least one in the first, and they gave me three. That's huge. That takes a lot of pressure off the starting pitcher when they put up runs that fast."
The Rays' 3-0 start on the road is the best in team history, as is the team's 6-3 record. Since the beginning of Spring Training, manager Joe Maddon has harped on how crucial getting off to a good start was for the Rays this season. The players have embraced that concept and feel good about the start.
"We're thrilled with where we're at right now, and that's it. Now we have to continue; we don't go past that," Pena said. "We know that we have Boston on Friday, and we have to bring our best that day. And we know that's all that matters."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.