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Roberts puts batting skid behind him

Roberts puts batting skid behind him

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ST. PETERSBURG -- What slump? Brian Roberts continued to put his recent batting skid behind him on Tuesday, when he homered for the second time in as many days. Roberts started this series against Tampa Bay in an 0-for-18 slump, but he's turned his results around with diligence and a proper sense of perspective.

Roberts, Baltimore's second baseman, went 0-for-14 in a recent trip to Toronto but said that he didn't feel himself pressing. He broke out with a key single late in Monday night's win over Tampa Bay and added two crucial insurance runs with a homer in the ninth. Afterwards, he said that he knew his numbers.

"That was probably the longest time I've gone without a hit in a while," said Roberts. "Maybe a couple of years. I felt like I handled it better than I've ever handled it, to tell you the truth. Certainly when you feel like you're in games, if I would have done things, we might have won. ...You can't help take it a little hard, but I felt like I've been fine through it all."

Roberts, a two-time All-Star, has been entrenched as Baltimore's leadoff hitter for several seasons. Manager Dave Trembley loves to refer to him as an offensive catalyst, and he said he could tell that Roberts was taking the slump to heart. With that in mind, Trembley sat down with Roberts shortly before the team arrived in Tampa Bay.

"I thought the other day in Toronto, he thought he could've won the game for us. And he didn't," Trembley said. "I told him, 'It's never one pitch. It's never one play. It's never one guy.' It's a combination of a lot of things. You can never narrow it down to one guy that either wins it or loses it. I wanted to get that point across to him."

That point reverberated loud and clear for Roberts, who went back to work on Tuesday and struck a two-run homer in the third inning. That long ball helped underline what Trembley said before the game, highlighting Roberts as a key contributor and showing exactly what the Orioles missed during a recent 0-6 rough patch.

"You have to have other people in your lineup pick up the other guys," said Trembley. "But I think he does a whole lot more than just get hits. He sets the tone. He can draw walks, he's not afraid to hit with two strikes [and] he'll draw the counts out. I think in that aspect he does a lot of things unseen if not unappreciated."

The rest of his game, of course, is fairly well delineated. Roberts is the only switch-hitter to hit 50 doubles in a season, and he's managed to do it twice. The fleet-footed infielder has led the Orioles in stolen bases for two straight seasons and has finished in the American League's top 10 for six straight years.

Roberts has played in more games (1,003) than all but 12 other Orioles, and Trembley said he does a lot of things that will enable him to keep climbing up that list over the next few seasons.

"I think Brian Roberts is a proven, established Major League player and has been for a long time," Trembley said. "He's not immune to going through periods where things just don't fall in for him. But he is the catalyst offensively for our team and it was great for him to get started last night and do what he did.

"Hopefully it carries over to today and then we go home. He's a very valuable player on our team."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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