St. Petersburg, Fla. — Mark Hendrickson took a new mental approach into his latest start and wound up keeping his spot in Tampa Bay's rotation.
Hendrickson took a one-hitter into the eighth inning, and Travis Lee homered as the Devil Rays completed a four-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals with a 6-2 victory Sunday.
Pitching with his spot in the rotation in jeopardy, Hendrickson (5-7) didn't allow a hit until Emil Brown doubled with two outs in the fourth inning. He left after 71â3 innings and gave up two runs, four hits and one walk. The left-hander was coming off two starts against Boston in which he allowed 11 runs and 11 hits over three combined innings.
"The preparation I had this week was probably the best it's been," Hendrickson said. "I hadn't been pitching real well. Today was a lot better and more like what I expect out of myself. Hopefully, I just can build off it because we're playing well as a team right now."
Kansas City, which has scored in only three of its last 34 innings, got two runs and three hits off Hendrickson in the eighth. Joe McEwing's RBI single ended Hendrickson's day.
"He went out today and said, I want to stay in this rotation," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "He pitched himself a heck of a ballgame. He'd been struggling coming in here. Today, he turned it around, and he'll be getting the ball."
David DeJesus added a sacrifice fly against Trever Miller.
"We haven't played very good at all, obviously, but it's hard to figure these guys losing that many games," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "They've got a good offensive club. They play good defense. I like their team over there."
The victory moved Piniella (1,492-1,391) past Hall of Famer Clark Griffith into 18th place for career victories as a manager. The Devil Rays are 12-5 since the All-Star break, including an 8-2 homestand that ended Sunday.
Lee put the Devil Rays up 1-0 on a homer off Jose Lima (4-9) in the second, the 23rd home run off Lima in 1161â3 innings this season. Lee has just four RBIs over his last 35 games.
Lima allowed three runs, six hits, five walks and struck out five in five-plus innings.
"He got out of a few innings, making some good pitches," Bell said. "He wasn't bad. We didn't have anything for their guy. We didn't have very good at-bats today."
Tampa Bay loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but scored just once on Carl Crawford's sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead. Crawford and Jorge Cantu had RBI singles in the sixth that gave the Devil Rays a 4-0 advantage.
Alex Gonzalez and pinch-hitter Toby Hall had run-scoring singles in the seventh to make it 6-0.
Notes: Tampa Bay rookie RF Jonny Gomes, who became the first Devil Rays' player to hit three homers in a game Saturday, nearly missed that contest with a sore left foot. Gomes went 0-for-2 Sunday. He also walked twice and was hit by a pitch thrown by RHP Leo Nunez in the seventh, which prompted a chorus of boos from the crowd. . ... Gomes lined hard to third with two on and two outs in the first after homering in his final three at-bats Saturday. ... It's the first time the Royals have been swept in a four-game series since Aug. 6-9, 2004, at Anaheim. ... Kansas City C John Buck was back in the lineup after being rested the previous two games. He snapped an 0-for-12 slide with an eighth-inning double. ... Devil Rays SS Julio Lugo hurt his left knee on a slide into second base in the first, but remained in the game. "It's fine," said Lugo, who went 3-for-5 en route to setting a team record for hits in July with 40.