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No-hit repeat over early thanks to Cox

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 5, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- It took a week, but Steve Cox finally broke up Derek Lowe's no-hitter.

The Rays first baseman, who came the closest of any Rays player to ruining Lowe's no-hitter April 27 at Fenway Park, hit a leadoff single in the second inning Saturday off the Boston starting pitcher.

Lowe held the Rays hitless through 30 at-bats.

"I wasn't going to throw another no-hitter," he said, "let's be honest."

It was no surprise Cox was the first to get a hit off Lowe.

In his first full season as the starting first baseman, Cox entered Saturday's game tied for fourth in the American League with a .348 average despite missing three games with a groin injury last month.

"We really didn't know what to expect," manager Hal McRae said. "I think we projected him as a double-figure home run guy and a decent average. He might surpass that. Only time will tell, but he's played good."

Cox has hit in 21 of the 25 games he has played and has 10 multihit games through 95 at-bats.

"We're still right around 100 at-bats," McRae said. "That's no measure of what a player is going to do or what a player is capable of doing. I think the clock starts ticking now."

MORE ON LOWE: Lowe became the fifth pitcher since 1920 to throw a no-hitter and get a no-decision in his next outing.

The right-hander, however, is the first to do so since the Astros' Mike Scott in 1986.

"It's nice when no one knows you pitched," he said.

Added Boston manager Grady Little: "He did a good job. ... He kept us close and gave us a chance to win the game. That's all we can ask."

CONTINUING ON: His pitches flat and down the middle, Ryan Rupe made the necessary adjustments to survive his past outing Tuesday against Minnesota.

The right-hander hopes it carries over to today's start.

Rupe leads the Rays with three wins, two against the Tigers, and allowed six runs in the first two innings against Minnesota before finishing with three scoreless.

"I'm not going to do anything different," Rupe said. "I'm going to try to execute my pitches, try to work my four-seamer and two-seamer and changeup, try to keep the ball down. I think that's my main goal."

STAY AGGRESSIVE: The secret to ending a nine-game losing streak, McRae believes, is being aggressive.

On the basepaths. On the mound. At the plate. In the field.

"The whole attitude of the club has to be aggressive," McRae said. "That's the only way we're going to survive. You sit around and wait for someone to pop one or you sit around and wait for the big inning is not the ideal way to go about it."

For the second straight game, the Rays got a leadoff hitter on in the fifth and then saw him get caught stealing.

"On offense we put guys in motion, hit and run and steal, get 'em dirty to get a chance," McRae said. "Generally when you're losing that feeling is not prevalent. You're not getting guys on base. You're not getting enough hits. You're not getting a lot of scoring opportunities."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Rays have been outscored 20-0 in the ninth inning this season. ... Shea Hillenbrand's grand slam in the ninth was the first pinch-hit grand slam for the Red Sox since Aug. 10, 1986. It also was the first ball to hit off a catwalk this season. ... Ben Grieve, who turned 26 Saturday, had a season-high three RBIs. He leads the team with 20. ... Left-hander Joe Kennedy has allowed three earned runs or fewer in five straight starts.

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