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Waechter can't change pattern

One bad inning does in the St. Petersburg native in a 7-4 loss to the Yankees, the Rays' season-high eighth straight.

DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published September 7, 2004

NEW YORK - Doug Waechter pitched true to form Monday night, and that was the problem.

The Devil Rays right-hander, making his first major-league start since June 8, got into trouble in the fourth inning and allowed four runs in a 7-4 loss to the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

"It was the same report we had in the minors," manager Lou Piniella said."The first three innings or so are good, and then a bad inning. That's what happened."

"I just left the ball up in key situations, which is going to hurt you against this lineup," Waechter said.

The loss was Tampa Bay's season-high eighth straight and 18th in its past 23 games.

It was an appropriate end to a weird day that started at 8 a.m. at Tropicana Field and included a delayed charter flight and a 6 o'clock arrival at the stadium, three hours late for the postponed first game of a doubleheader.

It wasn't all gloomy. Jorge Cantu hit his first major-league home run to centerfield to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead. And Geoff Blum hit a two-run homer in the ninth.

But all eyes were on Waechter, the St. Petersburg native, who was on the disabled list since June 11 with a strained tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand and is fresh off eight rehabilitation starts for Triple-A Durham.

When the pitches moved up in the strike zone, the Yankees pounced. Alex Rodriguez got the big blow, a three-run double in the fourth that made the score 5-1. It was Rodriguez's second double of the game and first hit in 11 at-bats this season with the bases loaded.

"I learn something new every outing," Waechter said. "Obviously I learned a few things; the way I attack hitters in some situations, I have to concentrate on keeping the ball down."

It was amazing the Rays could concentrate on anything given their schedule. Even Waechter, who flew in from North Carolina on Sunday, admitted he was thrown off a bit by the disruption of his pregame routine.

"He'll get better," Piniella said."He's missed a long time."

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