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Sturtze falls 2 outs shy of his first win

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 9, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- The fastball was intended for the outside of the plate.

Two outs from his first career complete game and first win of the season, Tanyon Sturtze instead grooved the 1-and-0 pitch to San Diego's Ron Gant and watched as Gant hit it into the leftfield seats to tie it at 2.

The wait for win No.1 continues.

Sturtze got a no-decision after the Rays won in the 10th inning and he remains 0-7 this season.

"It was my fault in the ninth inning," Sturtze said. "I'm the one who threw the home run ball. Otherwise it would've been over by then. We would've been walking off the field."

Sturtze is winless in 13 starts despite working a career-high nine innings and throwing more pitches than he ever had in a major-league game (131). The only starter without a win in the majors right now, he became the first pitcher since 1979 to not win in his first 13 starts.

"I know he's going to pull out of it," manager Hal McRae said. "He's going to be okay. Tonight was a good start. So next time he goes out, he goes out with much more confidence and knows what works."

Sturtze allowed two runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking three. It was arguably his finest outing of the season.

He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in five starts this season, including an eight-inning outing against the Twins on April 25 when he gave up one run.

"It's really frustrating for me right now," Sturtze said. "It's hard for me to say that I'm happy about the nine innings or I'm happy about throwing however many pitches. I just really want to get that first one so I can stop talking about not having one."

STICKING WITH IT: There's a reason behind Jared Sandberg's recent success at the plate.

The third baseman is trying to be more selective, waiting for pitches up in the zone rather than chasing breaking pitches in the dirt. That's exactly what he was doing when he struck out looking with two on in the ninth.

"It's been working for me the past week and a half or so," said Sandberg, who gave the Rays a 2-1 lead with a run-scoring single in the seventh and is hitting .344 in the past eight games. "I got two good pitches, two good swings and was trying to do too much. That's been the story of my season thus far. I've just been trying to do too much."

UNWELCOME HOME: Padres outfielder and ex-Rays favorite Bubba Trammell, who lives in Clearwater during the offseason, got quite a surprise when the Padres got into town Thursday. Hoping to go fishing before Friday's game, Trammell discovered someone had stolen his johnboat from a cluster of mangroves near his house.

"I'm sure I'll get something when I get home in the offseason," said Trammell, who is hitting .204 this season. "You think you're going bad and then someone steals your boat. Somebody wanted it worse than me I guess."

DRAFT SIGNINGS: The Rays signed four of their draft picks: outfielder Joey Gomes (eighth round) and right-handed pitchers Jason Hammel (10th round), Nicholas DeBarr (14th round) and Michael Sanders (49th round). They have signed seven of 50 picks.

ODDS AND ENDS: Third-base coach Tom Foley rejoined the team Saturday. He left Toronto on Monday and flew to Orlando to be with his father, who died on Thursday. Larry Foley, a 21-year Army veteran, will be buried on Tuesday. ... Jason Smith will replace Chris Gomez at shortstop and Paul Hoover will catch for John Flaherty today. ... The Rays wives will hold their baby goods drive today. Fans who donate such items as disposable diapers and/or nonperishable baby food will get a voucher for a free outfield seat to any upcoming home game. ... Dewon Brazelton, the Rays' first-round pick in the 2001 draft, is 1-4 with a 3.45 ERA through 701/3 innings pitched for Double-A Orlando.

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