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Rays, Kennedy get swept away

ANGELS 10, RAYS 1: Garret Anderson hits two three-run homers to lead the rout.

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jim Morris, whose startling rise to the major leagues at age 35 spawned a book, a movie, a series of motivational speeches and a rich post-baseball lifestyle, was at Tropicana Field Thursday promoting the DVD and home video release of The Rookie.

Too bad he only threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

After that, about the only thing good for the Rays in a 10-1 loss was that Joe Kennedy showed he was healthy and able to pitch without any effects of the tired arm that forced him to miss his last start.

He just didn't pitch very well, allowing a career-worst seven earned runs (eight overall) on eight hits -- including a three-run home run by Garret Anderson -- in 52/3 innings.

"I felt fine," Kennedy said. "My arm felt good. My body felt good. I just (stunk)."

The loss was the Rays' third straight to the Angels, marking the ninth time this season the Rays have been swept in a three- or four-game series. Their 47 wins are the fewest by an American League team through 139 games since the 1991 Indians and has them on pace to finish 55-107.

It was the 26th time out of 139 games they scored one or no runs -- a mind-boggling 19 percent -- and the 18th time they allowed 10 or more.

"Not very much to say tonight," Rays manager Hal McRae said. "They pitched better, they hit better, they played a much better ballgame. So it's a hang-in-there night for us and try to regroup and come out and play a better ballgame tomorrow. We didn't do very much and they did too much.

"It's frustrating to lose and not put up a good fight. We didn't compete very well tonight."

The Angels, meanwhile, improved to 85-54 and increased their lead over idle Seattle to four games in the AL wild-card race.

"We're doing a lot of good things out there on the field and it seems like when we get an opportunity, whether the door is cracked open with a walk or we get a key hit to get it started, we're able to roll it over with more hits and that's important," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

"Offensively we're doing a good job, but the thing I think has really held up and is really important is the pitching staff. Those guys have been great all year and right now, even with a couple guys banged up, we're still doing the type of job that a championship-caliber club needs."

The game was played before another tiny gathering, with maybe 4,000 representing the announced paid crowd of 10,135, giving the Rays a three-game total of 30,442, or about half as many as will be at Raymond James Stadium for Sunday's Bucs opener. For their pain in braving the heavy evening rains, or perhaps for their suffering, Thursday's fans were invited back for a free ticket to Sunday's game.

Kennedy started for the first time since Aug. 25, when he walked off the mound in the fourth inning because of a tired and achy feeling in his left arm. His velocity that day was down 6-8 mph to the low to mid 80s, prompting his coaches to mistake his fastballs for changeups.

Kennedy said he felt better, and that his velocity was back to the 90-92 mph range, during a sideline session Aug. 31, and he seemed to carry that over to Thursday.

"He warmed up as good in the bullpen as he had all year," pitching coach Jackie Brown said. "Leaving the bullpen, both (catcher John Flaherty) and I thought he was going to have a good game."

But once Kennedy started the game, he started to have all kinds of problems.

"It wasn't one particular thing," Kennedy said. "I couldn't get (leadoff hitter David) Eckstein out and I couldn't get Anderson out and those were the two guys who hurt me."

The Angels scratched out single runs in the first and third, widened the gap with Anderson's three-run homer in the fifth. They finished the job with a five-run sixth, capped by another three-run homer by Anderson, who Scioscia was touting for league MVP consideration.

Kennedy, who hasn't won since Aug. 4, said he didn't know what was wrong apart from having a bad night. "That happens sometimes," Brown said. "And I'm glad that he didn't make an excuse."

If that's all it was, at least the Rays had something to be pleased about.

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