Longoria has big game in win over Baltimore

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Starting the season with even a modest two straight wins used to almost never happen for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Of course, they’ve only recently developed players as good as Evan Longoria.

He homered and drove in three runs, Matt Garza allowed two runs over eight innings and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 on Wednesday night.

Big homers by the Rays third baseman have keyed both victories, and made the Rays 2-0 for the second time in franchise history.

“I feel really good at the plate,” Longoria said. “Who knows how this year is going to turn out or how the beginning of the season is going to continue on for me? But as of right now, I’m off to a pretty good start, and that comfort level and confidence is there.”

Longoria hit a two-out, two-run double in the fifth to give the Rays a 3-2 lead and added a solo homer in the eighth.

“He’s a great player,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. “His impact is obvious.”

Garza (1-0) struck out nine, walked two and allowing four hits. He improved to 19-9 against AL East teams.

“Tough first inning,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He settled in and got better as the game went on. He’s definitely focused and motivated right now.”

Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie (0-1) gave up three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. The right-hander had six strikeouts and two walks.

“Confident with the pitches I had and for the most part the location was pretty good,” Guthrie said. “Much better than any start I had last year with the slider, so that’s a real positive.”

Guthrie has lost his last four starts at Tropicana Field.

One day after a season-opening sellout of 36,973, the announced crowd Wednesday night was 15,220.

The Rays opened the season with two wins for the first time since 2002, the only other time they did it. That year they finished with more than 100 losses.

This season, the goals are a bit higher for a young and much more talented team.

“I think as a group we really have taken a lot of momentum from spring training into the season.” Longoria said. “It’s all really come together for us early. Hopefully we can continue it.”

Tampa Bay had a 20-8-2 record in spring training, which was the major’s best mark.

Rafael Soriano got his first save with the Rays despite allowing a run-scoring double by Garrett Atkins in the ninth.

Miguel Tejada had an RBI single during a two-run first.

“We came up a little short,” Trembley said. “We didn’t win the game. It wasn’t because we did anything wrong. The other team won.”

Tampa Bay made it 2-1 in the fourth on a run-scoring single by B.J. Upton. The Rays later in the inning loaded the bases with two outs, but the threat ended when Kelly Shoppach struck out.

Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts went 0 for 5 and is hitless in 10 at-bats. He was limited to six games during spring training because of a slightly herniated disc in his back.

NOTES: Trembley said RHP Jim Johnson was not available due to arm tightness. … The Rays are 111-53 at home since the start of the 2008 season. … Baltimore LF Felix Pie was out of the lineup due to a left rotator cuff strain and was replaced by Nolan Reimold, who is coming back from left Achilles’ tendon surgery last September. “I felt all right out there,” Reimold said. … Pie pinch run in the ninth. … Orioles INF Robert Andino cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.

Updated April 7, 2010