Archive for Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Baldelli’s big plays lift Rays

July 28, 2004


— Rocco Baldelli used his all-around game to help Tampa Bay get back on track.

Baldelli had an RBI double and threw a runner out at the plate Tuesday night, helping the Devil Rays end their six-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

"It's nice to win after losing a few in a row," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said.

Baldelli hit the run-scoring double during a two-run third that put Tampa Bay up 3-1.

The Royals loaded the bases with one out in the first off Dewon Brazelton (3-3), but failed to score because of Baldelli's defensive play in center field. He caught Ken Harvey's fly in medium center and then made a strong throw to catcher Toby Hall to retire a sliding David DeJesus, who was tagging up from third.

"I was lucky I threw a strike," Baldelli said. "The throw was a little high. It was over the cut. As an outfielder, you try to throw it through the cut-off man. It wasn't through the cut-off man, so I'm glad it was on the money."

Brazelton allowed two runs, six hits, four walks and struck out three over six-plus innings.

"That's a great play on his part," Brazelton said. "It was a big boost. At that point in time, I was struggling a little bit. My defense, maybe, allowed me two or three innings so I could get back to where I needed to be."

Joe Randa homered for the Royals, who have lost five straight. Kansas City has an AL-worst record of 35-63.

"We had our chances," Royals manager Tony Pena said. "We just cannot get a big hit in the right situation."

Darrell May (7-11) gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked one during a 94-pitch outing.

"I felt like I was keeping the ball in good," May said. "But then I'd come back with a pitch up in the zone and the results showed for themselves. I gave up a lot of hits."

Brazelton left because of cramps in his left hamstring after facing two batters in the seventh, but Piniella said Brazelton would make his next scheduled start Sunday.

Hall homered and drove in three runs for the Devil Rays (46-53), who are 6-15 since they were a season-high two-games over .500 on July 3.

Carl Crawford had an infield single in the third, stole second then scored on Baldelli's double. Baldelli stole third and then scored when catcher John Buck was charged with an error for an errant throw on the play.

"When we're playing well, that's what we're doing," Baldelli said. "That's one of our strong points, our speed. For us to be playing quality ball and to win games, we have to take advantage of it."

Crawford also stole second in the seventh. He leads the majors with 43 steals.

Hall extended the Tampa Bay lead to 5-1 on a two-run homer in the fourth, his first since June 8.

Aubrey Huff put the Devil Rays up 1-0 with an RBI double in the bottom of the first.

Randa tied it at 1 with a homer in the second inning. It was his first homer since May 15. Randa underwent arthroscopic knee surgery June 28 and was activated from the disabled list Saturday.

Desi Relaford got the Royals to 5-2 with an RBI double in the seventh. Travis Harper replaced Brazelton and got three consecutive fly balls to end the inning.

Harper allowed one hit over two scoreless innings. Closer Danys Baez pitched the ninth.

Hall made it 6-2 with an RBI single in the eighth.

Notes: Tampa Bay 1B Tino Martinez stole third in the second. It was just his 24th stolen base in 1,838 games. "I didn't have the nerve to give him the green light," Piniella said. "I was waiting for him to try and steal home."... Harvey also flew out with two on and two outs in the third. He has eight RBIs in his last 28 games. ... Royals SS Angel Berroa was rested. He is hitless in nine at-bats. ... Brazelton has allowed just one homer -- to New York's Alex Rodriguez -- in 552/3 innings this season.

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