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Rays buried right off the bat
By MARC TOPKIN
Published July 21, 2005
BOSTON - Throwing 30 pitches in the first inning is not usually good.
Throwing 30 pitches in the first inning without getting anyone out is extraordinarily bad.
That's how Tampa Bay starter Mark Hendrickson began Wednesday's game against the first-place Red Sox at Fenway Park, and as a result it was over quickly, with the Rays stumbling to a 9-4 loss.
All six Boston batters Hendrickson faced scored in what was another chapter of the Rays' you've-got-to-see-it-to-believe-it season, the first time in their 1,227-game history a healthy starter left without getting an out.
"I pretty much couldn't throw the ball anywhere where I wanted to," Hendrickson said. "Tough outing. I don't think it can get much worse."
Johnny Damon started the rally by beating out a grounder to shortstop for an infield single. Edgar Renteria walked. David Ortiz singled to center to score Damon. Manny Ramirez hit a fly to right that dropped for a double, scoring Renteria. Kevin Millar walked. And Doug Mirabelli knocked a belt-high changeup off the leftfield wall for a two-run double.
"It was rough," shortstop Julio Lugo said.
"Long," catcher Toby Hall said. "I've been through some long ones, but ... "
The Sox had four runs in when Hendrickson was replaced by Dewon Brazelton, and the next two scored shortly afterward. Hendrickson, who is a disappointing 4-7 with a 6.82 ERA, was starting on three days' rest for the first time, and in oppressive heat, but didn't blame the circumstances.
"I felt pretty good, I just couldn't make pitches," he said. "I couldn't throw anything for strikes or anything where I wanted to. ... It was just one of those days where nothing worked."
It was so bad, even Boston counterpart David Wells, a Clearwater resident who improved to 10-1 against the Rays with his usual displays of changing speeds and locations, had sympathy.
"You're the loneliest man in the world when that happens," Wells said.
Hendrickson, though, wasn't alone in his misery.
Rays third baseman Alex Gonzalez made three errors in a game for the first time in his career, grounded into a double play and was twice called out on strikes before singling in his last at-bat.
"It was one of those days," Gonzalez said. "They were pretty tough plays, balls you don't see every day. ... What can you do? Try making the next play."
As disappointing as the loss was, the Rays tried to find positives after going 4-3 on their first winning road trip in more than a year.
Brazelton, demoted to long relief since rejoining the team after an unexcused absence, had a decent 52/3-inning outing and said he hoped that was a way to "earn respect back or whatever it is everyone says I need to earn back."
Aubrey Huff hit his 10th homer and Eduardo Perez his sixth, and rookie Jonny Gomes had the second three-hit game of his career.
"We're happy with our road trip," manager Lou Piniella said. "You give us 4-3 the rest of the year on the road I don't think anyone's got anything to complain about. It's a shame that you win the first one and the other two get away from you. But, look, when we left St. Petersburg on (July 13), if somebody had said "4-3 road trip,' everybody would be pleased. So we are pleased."