ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Even with a couple of new names in the middle of the lineup, the Tampa Bay Rays struggled to score.
Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon each went 0 for 4 in their debuts for the Rays during Friday night's 4-1 season-opening loss to Jeremy Guthrie and the Baltimore Orioles.
Evan Longoria went 0-fer, too, as the defending AL East champions were limited to four hits, including Ben Zobrist's ninth-inning homer that averted a shutout.
``Any time your two, three, four guys go 0 for 12, it's not a good day. ... Hopefully that doesn't happen often,' Damon said after Guthrie throttled the Rays on three hits through eight scoreless innings.
Damon, Longoria and Ramirez form the heart of a Tampa Bay order that had trouble putting up runs last year, before All-Star Carl Crawford and slugger Carlos Pena became free agents.
``It's hard to gauge our hitters because their pitching was that good,' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ``It's not like we weren't swinging the bats well. Guthrie was good, man.'
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 Rays hoisted their latest division title banner at Tropicana Field.
And, they did it with Guthrie outperforming David Price, last year's AL Cy Young Award runner-up.
``It's one day, but I sure like being on this end of it,' Showalter said. ``It's a tough place to play on opening day.'
Brian Roberts hit a two-run triple off Price in the fifth and scored on Nick Markakis' sacrifice fly. Markakis also had an RBI single in the third.
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.
Guthrie walked one and struck out six.
``Throwing before the game, I felt good. I was very excited, really, wanting to get out there and go after it,' Guthrie said. ``It was a great crowd, but I was able to tone it down a little bit. ... I had a feel for the ball and was able to carry it over into the game.'
A sellout crowd of 34,078 - the sixth straight for a Rays home opener - 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, 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.
``I felt good. But when you're going against another team's No. 1 and give up four runs, you're going to lose,' said Price, a 19-game winner in 2010. ``I've got to get better.'
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.
The Associated Press News Service
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