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Crawford hits his mark

The milestone homer accents a forgettable loss.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
Published September 18, 2005

BALTIMORE - Carl Crawford said he would rather have hit his milestone home run in a game the Devil Rays won. It would have been so much nicer to talk about.

But after Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards, there wasn't a lot more to discuss.

You probably could make a case for starter Casey Fossum, who allowed one run in six grinding innings. Or the way Baltimore pitchers dominated, with starter Bruce Chen allowing two hits in seven innings and relievers Todd Williams and B.J. Ryan each throwing perfect innings.

You might note Rays reliever Joe Borowski picked up his fourth loss in his last seven outings.

But in the context of a yawningly dull mid September game, Crawford's home run - with which he joined Stan Musial, George Brett, Juan Samuel and Ryne Sandberg as the only players with 15 home runs, 15 triples and 30 doubles in a season - was as good as it was going to get.

"A nice solid number to reach a nice little milestone," Crawford said.

With perhaps more to come.

The leftfielder needs 17 hits in his final 13 games to be the first Rays player with 200. He needs seven steals to reach 50 which would make him the seventh player with Ty Cobb, Craig Biggio, George Sisler, Sam Rice, Tris Speaker and Willie McGee to reach those marks with 80 RBIs.

Crawford said he is not looking at numbers as much as the way they are achieved.

His home run off Chen, a 407-foot blast to left-center, was notable because it came off a clever lefthander and went to the opposite field, just the second he figured he hit that way all season.

"I'm trying to be more selective and getting pitches to drive. I'm also trying to catch pitches out front more," Crawford said. "Once I have somebody teach how to do that consistently, I won't have to pull my home runs all the time. And that's when my numbers will go up more."

Crawford, batting .298 with 80 RBIs and 15 triples, said his goal after last season's career-high 11 home runs was to hit 15.

"You don't know if you're going to get there but when you do it's satisfying," he said. "Then you set your goals higher for next year and hopefully you reach them."

The Rays' goal was to build off Friday's well-played 6-1 victory. But Tampa Bay didn't get a hit until the fourth.

Fossum, who said he was fighting a cold, battled out of a few difficult situations. The left-hander was unlucky in the fourth when with the bases loaded and two outs, Brian Roberts' ground ball went off his left ankle.

Fossum scrambled after the ball but couldn't get Roberts at first and the game was tied.

"Any other day," said Fossum, whose ankle was brised red, "it might kick to home plate."

Luis Matos' one-out, RBI single in the eighth off Borowski was the winner. Since the 21 scoreless innings Borowski pitched after he was signed July 11, the righty has blown three saves and has an 8.00 ERA in seven outings.

Still, manager Lou Piniella's bottom line was, "We didn't do much offensively."

Even Crawford struck out to lead off the ninth.

"Of course you'd rather have it on a winning note," he said of his milestone. "It's just one of those things."

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