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Gaudin does not help his cause

JOHN C. COTEY
Published June 28, 2004

Chad Gaudin made his fourth start Sunday, and maybe his last for a while.

The 21-year-old right-hander was hit hard by Florida on the heels of a 29-pitch outing against Toronto that combined may send manager Lou Piniella seeking another solution.

Piniella chose his words carefully, but when asked about replacing Gaudin, he didn't sound overly encouraging.

"We'll give it some thought overnight," he said.

Gaudin pitched five-plus innings, allowing 10 hits and six runs with one strikeout. He was a little unlucky - Mike Lowell's run-scoring double to open the scoring went off Carl Crawford's glove, and Jeff Conine's bases-loaded double later that inning went over Joey Gathright's head in center as the rookie appeared to jump early.

But both were well-hit, as were many off Marlins bats.

Piniella said he left Gaudin in longer than he normally would have to let him work out some things. "We just can't go out and get our starter early every time," he added.

Piniella said he was impressed with Gaudin's slider last season but hasn't seen the same zip on it this year. Gaudin admitted it wasn't very sharp against the Marlins.

"The slider was a little flat today," he said. "Some days it's going to be. I'm definitely going to work on that next time I'm in the bullpen."

EVERYONE LOVES A WINNER: The attendance for the three-game series with Florida was 76,960, the highest since 86,692 watched the Yankees and Rays July 26-28 in 2002.

There were 6,800 walk-up sales, bringing the total for the past two days to 20,209.

FIRST TIME: Gathright's single in the eighth inning off Darren Oliver was his first major-league hit, but he seemed unimpressed.

"One-for-5 isn't exactly a good day for me," he said.

Gathright, who misplayed a ball for a triple Saturday night, had more problems in the field. He couldn't get to two balls over his head and seemed to miscommunicate with Crawford in left on two fly-ball outs to the gap that Crawford cut in front of him to grab.

"We can't afford balls over his head that score multiple runs," Piniella said.

Gathright admitted that the speed of the game and playing in a dome for the first time requires an adjustment, but said he can fix his fielding difficulties pretty simply.

"I was seeing okay today," he said. "I think I was just a little too shallow."

ANOTHER STREAK DONE: Crawford's club-record streak of seven consecutive two-hit games ended as he went 0-for-3, though he did drive in a run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly.

FISH FRIED: Jose Cruz had reached base 28 straight games coming into the Marlins series but cooled off in a hurry.

In three games against Florida, Cruz was 0-for-11 and Sunday popped out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning and struck out to end the game with runners on second and third.

TIME CHANGE: The start time for Wednesday's game against Toronto has been changed from 7:15 p.m. to 7:05 to accommodate ESPN. The Rays will be the network's backup game to the Yankees-Red Sox showdown and will be shown in New York and Boston. The Rays game will not be televised locally.

INJURY UPDATE: Piniella said Tino Martinez (hamstring) could have played Sunday if the Rays desperately needed him, but he expected him to be in the lineup today. Rocco Baldelli (thigh strain) said he still doesn't know when he'll be able to play centerfield and will DH until then.

FARM REPORT: The Devil Rays will be represented by seven players from their Class A Charleston RiverDogs team in Tuesday's South Atlantic League All-Star game, which will be played at the RiverDogs' home field.

The players are catcher Colt Simmons, second baseman Elliot Johnson, first baseman Wes Bankston, outfielder Delmon Young and pitchers Brian Bulger, Chad Orvella and Scott Vandermeer.

The most heralded player in the group is Young, the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft. He is hitting .289 with 12 homers and 59 RBI this season The team will managed by Charleston's Scott Livesey.

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