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Gomes, Rays alter balance of power in East
RAYS 7, RED SOX 4: The rookie hits a go-ahead triple in a five-run eighth that helps knock Boston out of first.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published September 22, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - Jonny Gomes said he didn't see how far he hit the ball or where it landed. But he knew he got it all.
So the Devil Rays rightfielder pumped his fist as he sprinted, head down, from the batter's box. By the time Gomes had a moment to look around, he was on third, two runs had scored and Tampa Bay had dealt the Red Sox a devastating blow.
Gomes' two-out triple was the winner and high point of a five-run eighth that gave the Rays a dramatic 7-4 victory over Boston Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.
"That's just emotion," Gomes said of his gesture. "If you wear your emotions on your sleeve, that's not a bad thing."
"Gomes likes being up there in those RBI situations," manager Lou Piniella said. "That's part of the battle, wanting to be up there. And tonight, he delivered."
The Red Sox loss coupled with a Yankees victory knocked Boston out of first place in the AL East for the first time in 65 days. Boston also is a game behind Cleveland in the wild-card race.
Gomes had two hits, two RBIs and two runs. He also seemed to take personally that the Red Sox won the season series 13-6.
"It's like the boy that takes your lunch money," Gomes said. "If you can get them back one or two times, it makes things a lot better."
Helping was first baseman Travis Lee, who hit his 12th home run. And Travis Harper, Trever Miller and Danys Baez, who combined for 31/3 scoreless innings in relief of Scott Kazmir.
For a while, it appeared the Rays would succumb to starter Tim Wakefield. The knuckleballer is 13-1 against Tampa Bay and 6-0 at the Trop, and in a stretch from the second through seventh innings he retired 15 of 18.
With the help of a three-run second that put Boston up 3-0 and Manny Ramirez's 39th home run that made it 4-2 in the fifth, the Red Sox were cruising.
"It's a cartoon out there," Gomes said of Wakefield's dancing pitches. "You just don't want to embarrass yourself. He's the best Wiffle Ball pitcher in the world."
But with two outs in the seventh, Wakefield gave up Jorge Cantu's run-scoring single. That brought Mike Timlin in relief.
Lee singled. Gomes tripled. DH Eric Munson rapped a run-scoring double and Alex Gonzalez ripped a single to make it 7-4.
"A real good win for us," Piniella said. "One of our most satisfying."
"Since I've been here, anyway," he said. "Beating the Yankees doesn't get old. But Boston has been beating us up all year. We got a little bit of revenge this series."
The Rays took two of three and at 5-4 earned their first winning record at home against Boston since 2000.
"It's not like we're 10 games back," Timlin said of falling to second. "Mama said there'd be days like these. Now's the time to reach down, grab your bootstraps and pull them up."
Like the Rays. Since the All-Star break, Tampa Bay is 36-28, 24-21 against teams within 51/2 of a division lead or wild card.
"It's fun to do your job and sit back and see the guys explode like that," Miller said. "We had more fist-pumping in that (eighth) inning than we had in a while."