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Cruz pays back ex-teammates

RAYS 4, GIANTS 3 (10): The former Giant comes through with the winning single on the night he gets his Gold Glove.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 10, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - The minibobblehead doll was cute. The 2003 Gold Glove Award was a lifelong goal. The winning hit, in the 10th inning, against his ex-teammates was a perfect ending.

"A night to remember for me, that's for sure," Jose Cruz said. "I'm going to sleep well tonight."

Barry Bonds was in the lineup and commissioner Bud Selig was in the owner's box, but Cruz made it his night at Tropicana Field as the Devil Rays scored a thrilling 4-3 interleague victory vs. the Giants.

The Rays worked hard for the victory. They got a strong start as Mark Hendrickson battled Giants ace Jason Schmidt; they rallied for three runs in the eighth with a hand from a fan to overcome a 1-0 deficit; they had to go to extra innings when Danys Baez blew his first save in 12 tries; and they came back to win in the 10th.

The Rays loaded the bases against aptly named reliever Tyler Walker on three walks, plus a bunt by Rocco Baldelli, who made the sacrifice after spending Tuesday hospitalized due to a severe bout of food poisoning.

Cruz, who was let go by the Giants after a decent 2003 season, battled through an 11-pitch at-bat, fouling off five before ripping a single that bounced off first base.

"You know all the guys over there and it's just good to beat all the guys you know and have bragging rights," Cruz said.

"(Walker) attacked me, he threw good pitches. I was just out there battling for my life. I was just trying to get this over with, it was getting late."

As Julio Lugo scored the winner, Cruz was mobbed by teammates. "They were treating me a like a human bobblehead," he said.

So which of the three honors was the best?

"The bobblehead is last, that's for sure," Cruz said. "They're different. One's over a full season to be recognized and in that fashion that was great, and the other is a great feeling for tonight. Short-term, the game-winning hit. Lifetime, the Gold Glove."

The Rays went into the series determined not to let Bonds beat them, and he didn't. Bonds, who is skipping tonight's game to attend the funeral of a family friend in California, managed just a harmless two-out single in five trips to the plate, just the second time this season he went to the plate five times without walking.

"Our pitchers did a nice job on him tonight," manager Lou Piniella said. "He might be a little tired from swinging the bat."

There were a few others who had a hand in the victory.

Hendrickson went 72/3 solid innings, allowing a run after he walked the first batter of the game and nothing else. "He pitched another good ballgame," Piniella said. "He keeps us in the ballgame and gives us a chance to win."

The infielders tied a team record by turning five double plays, as the Giants ran their major-league-leading total to 67.

And then there was Julie Fusco, the fan sitting in the stands behind first base who appeared to get the tip of her glove on Lugo's eighth-inning foul ball, preventing San Francisco's Pedro Feliz from making the catch.

Given a second chance, Lugo made the most of it, lining a single to left that scored the tying run, and setting up Toby Hall's two-run go-ahead single.

"I love the fans in Tampa,' Lugo said. "Can you say in the paper that I say, "Thank you.' "

[Last modified June 10, 2004, 01:00:12]

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