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Atypical failures derail streak

RANGERS 13, RAYS 5: A close game turns ugly late, ending Tampa Bay's six-game run.

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published August 5, 2005

 
[Getty Images]
Joey Gathright, who had singled, scores on Jorge Cantu's two-out single in the third inning.
[AP photo]
Rays starter Casey Fossum pitches well into the sixth before faltering and allowing four runs.

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Devil Rays had done a lot of things right during their season-high six-game winning streak.

Thursday night, two important components of their recent success broke down.

Their relatively efficient offense was not very efficient, and their extremely effective bullpen was not very effective.

As a result, their streak was broken in a 13-5 come-from-ahead loss to the Rangers.

"It was a good ballgame," manager Lou Piniella said, "for about six innings."

The Rays' five runs, though nearly three fewer than they averaged during the streak, weren't the problem. It was the runs they didn't score, leaving 11 men on base, including eight in the pivotal fifth through eighth innings.

"We put up some runs, but they were singletons," Piniella said. "We didn't put any crooked numbers on the board."

Despite giving away a 4-1 lead, the Rays went up 5-4 in the seventh on Toby Hall's run-scoring single and were ready to put the game in the hands of their restructured bullpen. The relievers had been stellar in the new order, with Chad Orvella handling the seventh, Joe Borowski the eighth and Danys Baez the ninth.

But Thursday, Orvella's watch turned ugly.

The rookie right-hander got two quick outs, then made a series of mistakes.

He allowed a first-pitch homer to Phil Nevin on a fat fastball. ("He got careless to Nevin," Piniella said.) Then he fielded a bunt and made a high toss to first that allowed Alfonso Soriano to reach on an infield hit and got first baseman Aubrey Huff run over. ("It was an easy play, but he didn't come up throwing, he just lobbed it over to first," Piniella said.) He got behind Hank Blalock 2-and-1 and allowed a two-run homer on another fastball. ("Bad pitch selection," Piniella said.)

Orvella, who had allowed only one run over his previous nine appearances, said it was just a matter of leaving two pitches over too much of the plate and making one bad throw. Still, it was the first time in 94 professional appearances he allowed two homers in a game, much less an inning.

"It's baseball," Orvella said. "Stuff happens."

More stuff happened in the eighth, when the Rangers battered reliever Dewon Brazelton for six runs, though the team record-tying five walks he allowed were a big help.

Brazelton may have been rusty in his first appearance since July 26, but a 46-pitch, 12-batter, four-hit outing was a bit much to watch.

"In his defense he hadn't worked in a while, but he wasn't sharp at all," Piniella said. "You should be able to get through one inning at the big-league level."

Said Brazelton: "It wasn't fun, but that's life. I felt like I threw some good pitches, or whatever. Things just didn't go my way."

After taking a 4-1 lead into the sixth, the Rays seemed on their way to a seventh straight victory, which would have been their second-longest winning streak.

Casey Fossum had been pitching well, but two singles and a Soriano fly ball that bounced just inside the foul line and then off rightfielder Jonny Gomes' glove changed things quickly.

"Things just sped up in the sixth inning," Fossum said. "I'm pretty frustrated."

[Last modified August 5, 2005, 01:08:13]

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