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Archive for Sunday, July 30, 2000

Flaherty powers Devil Rays past KC

July 30, 2000

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— A botched bunt and a pair of solo homers spoiled Mac Suzuki's night.

John Flaherty broke up a pitching duel between Albie Lopez and Suzuki by hitting his first homer since June 9, leading the Tampa Bay Devil Rays over the Kansas City Royals, 2-1, Saturday night.

When: 1:05 p.m. today. Where: Kauffman Stadium. Television: None. Pitchers: Steve Trachsel (6-10) v. Jeff Suppan (5-6). KC Record: 47-56 (151/2 back).

"When the other guy is putting up zeros, you know you have to put up zeros too," Lopez said. "All I was trying to do was keep our team close. That's all I've been trying to do all season is keep our team close."

Flaherty homered in the seventh inning, his first RBI since June 18, and Greg Vaughn hit his 17th homer off Suzuki (5-6) in the eighth as Tampa Bay won its fourth straight for the first time since last Aug. 18-21.

The last three games of that streak were against the Royals in Tampa Bay, and it was the last time the Devil Rays swept a series.

"Anytime you get good starting pitching, you're looking to find a way to make something happen," said Flaherty, Tampa Bay's catcher. "I think he (Lopez) did a good job of keeping them off-balance. He showed them a lot of different looks."

Mark Quinn homered in the ninth off Lopez (8-7), but Roberto Hernandez came in to get the final out for his 19th save in 23 chances, including 13 in a row.

"I was sure we were going to come back," Suzuki said. "I always know I'm going to have support. I just tried to pitch my game and throw strikes. Every time I get behind in the count, I get in trouble."

Lopez allowed seven hits, struck out three and walked none.

Suzuki, who has lost six of his last eight starts, matched his career high by striking out eight. He allowed four hits and four walks in eight innings.

Kansas City fell under .500 (25-26) at home for the first time this season.

With the score 2-0 in the eighth inning, Rey Sanchez popped up a bunt with two runners on. Third baseman Vinny Castilla doubled up Carlos Febles at second.

"It changed the course of the game," Sanchez said. "I guess it was my turn to look bad out there. We needed that bunt. I feel pretty responsible for the loss."

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