Rays win first season opener in eight years

BALTIMORE (AP) -- A name change isn't the only thing different about the Tampa Bay Rays.

One game won't erase a reputation created by a decade of losing, yet the Rays displayed a potent offense, solid pitching and an air of confidence Monday in a season-opening 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

James Shields pitched seven innings of five-hit ball and Eric Hinske homered in his Tampa Bay debut, helping the Rays end a run of seven straight road losses in openers -- the longest active streak in the majors. After going 18-8 in spring training, Tampa Bay carried the feel-good vibe into Camden Yards.

"It was awesome. If you're not ready for Opening Day, something's wrong with you. All these guys were jacked up," said Hinske, whose fourth-inning drive put the Rays up 4-2. "We're really starting to feel like a team. It was a good spring, and to bring these guys into this atmosphere was awesome. Everybody's into it, and one through 25 we've got a good squad over here."

B.J. Upton, who drove in two runs, said, "The vibe in spring training was good. But starting today, actually, the games count now. And you could tell by the level of intensity."

Manager Joe Maddon's 25-man roster included 16 players in their first Opening Day with Tampa Bay, including six who weren't in the lineup for the 2007 opener. Back then, they were known as the Devil Rays. Now they're the Rays, and these guys were pumped to play.

"If we want to come out amped up every night, I'm good with that. They'll learn to tone it down a little bit," Maddon said. "During spring training, we've been talking about playing with intensity from Day One ... Nine guys playing nine innings hard every day. That's just what we did today."

Making his first Opening Day start, Shields (1-0) did a fine job in place of an injured Scott Kazmir. Shields walked three, struck out two and did not allow a runner to reach second base after the first inning.

"Today was one of those days where I couldn't get a little bit of rhythm at all," Shields said. "I just had to find a way to keep us in the ballgame."

Kevin Millar drove in two runs and Brian Roberts went 2-for-2 with two walks for the Orioles, who appear destined to displace Tampa Bay in the cellar of the AL East. In 10 seasons, the Rays have finished in last place nine times.

The announced attendance at Camden Yards was 46,807, a sellout, but the stadium was far from full. The thousands of empty seats might have been the result of the cool, damp weather.

More likely, it was a reflection of the lack of excitement for a season in which the Orioles have made a commitment to rebuild, a project that almost certainly will result in an 11th straight year with a losing record. At least Roberts provided the fans with some solid play, even though he's spent the past three months dealing with rumors of his imminent trade.

"That's Brian Roberts. He's one of the premier leadoff leaders, not only in this league but in the game," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "I wouldn't expect anything different from him. I don't think anything bothers him."

Making his first Opening Day start, Jeremy Guthrie (0-1) allowed six runs -- five earned -- and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"I thought Guthrie threw strikes, but his location wasn't what we're used to. The location of his secondary pitches is what got him in trouble," Trembley said.

At least Baltimore got off to a good start. Roberts led off the first inning with a walk, Nick Markakis hit a one-out single and they pulled a double steal. Millar followed with a two-run double off the glove of left fielder Carl Crawford.

The lead vanished in the third. Crawford drove in a run with a slow roller that third baseman Melvin Mora misplayed for an error and a two-run single by Upton made it 3-2. Hinske led off the fourth with his home run.

Run-scoring singles by Dioner Navarro and Jason Bartlett made it 6-2 in the sixth. Navarro had three hits.

"They've got a nice offense one through nine. Even Navarro had three hits. He's a guy you just can't sleep on," said Baltimore's Aubrey Huff, who used to play for Tampa Bay. "They've got three solid starters and they made improvements in their bullpen."

Game notes
The Orioles signed INF Alex Cintron to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk. Cintron batted .243 in 68 games with the White Sox last year. ... Tampa Bay was 0-2 in openers at Camden Yards, losing 10-7 in 1999 and 9-6 in 2006.