BALTIMORE - Granted, Brooks Conrad's current 3-for-29 streak is not going to impress many.
But for one night, 1-for-3 was good enough as Conrad's two-out, two-run homer gave Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays all they needed Tuesday night as Tampa Bay defeated Baltimore, 3-1, at Camden Yards in the first game of a nine-game road trip.
"That was a huge win for us," Conrad said. "We're on a big road trip and all these games really mean something. All of the teams (the Angels and the Athletics are the others) are in contention. It was a big win to start the road trip off on the right foot."
After starting eight of his first 10 games with the Rays after being claimed off waivers from Milwaukee on June 21, Conrad had seen limited playing time — starting his first game since July 7 and making his fifth appearance since before the All-Star break.
Conrad connected on a 1-2 pitch from losing Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen after Sam Fuld, making his first appearance of the season, had walked with one out in the fifth inning.
"It was a slider," Conrad said. "I shortened my swing a little and caught it a little outside."
For Conrad, it was just what he needed. Almost every trade rumor involving the Rays has included a third baseman.
After the game, the Rays acquired third baseman Ryan Roberts from Arizona in a trade that sent Double-A infielder Tyler Bortnick to the Diamondbacks. The Rays will have to make another roster move when Roberts arrives in Baltimore today.
"We got a big hit from (Conrad)," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "The home run was a big play. We seemed to gain a little momentum and didn't relent."
Baltimore took an early 1-0 lead on Adam Jones' 23rd home run to center field in the bottom of the fourth off Hellickson, who improved his record to 5-6 and lowered his ERA to 3.41.
After Conrad gave Hellickson the lead, he was nearly perfect. He retired eight of the final nine batters he faced, only allowing a double to Nick Markakis with one out in the sixth.
"Helly was more aggressive with his fastball, I thought, in the strike zone," Maddon said. "His curve ball was a weapon. He didn't rely too heavily on his change-up and the cutter was minimal, which I like."
After retiring Jones to start the seventh, Maddon went to the bullpen. Jake McGee and Joel Peralta retired all five batters they faced, four on strikeouts.
But Fernando Rodney made it interesting in the ninth. With one out, he gave up back-to-back walks to J.J. Hardy and Jim Thome and was 3-0 to Jones.
Rodney battled back and got Jones on strikes, and Wieters struck out to end the game and give Rodney his 28th save of the season.
"The 3-0 punch-out of Jones was probably the biggest play of the night," Maddon said.
The Rays added a run in the sixth inning when B.J. Upton led the inning off with a walk and moved to second on a Chen balk. Ben Zobrist followed with a perfect sacrifice bunt, moving Upton to third, and Upton later scored on a single by Jeff Keppinger.
Roberts had been designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old hit .250 with six home runs, 34 RBIs and six stolen bases in 83 games for Arizona this season. He played primarily third base (60 games, 57 starts).
The right-handed hitter also has spent time in the majors with the Blue Jays (2006-07) and Rangers (2008). His best season was 2011, when he hit .249 with 19 home runs, 65 RBIs and 18 stolen bases.
Tampa Bay Rays