tampabay.com

Pen gives bats time to come through

Brendan Harris drives in the winner in 12th after some sharp Rays relief work.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published May 6, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - Their ace pitched his way out of the game, and their bullpen looked like it was going to blow another one. But the Devil Rays kept playing Saturday night until they found a way to win.

Brendan Harris singled in Ben Zobrist with two outs in the 12th to give the Rays a 3-2 win over the A's.

Zobrist started the rally with a one-out grounder that shortstop Bobby Crosby couldn't seem to get out of his glove, and he went to second on a wild pitch by Oakland reliever Jay Marshall, the 24-year-old sidearmer who pitched last season at Class A.

After Josh Paul made the second out, Harris sliced a pitch down the rightfield line to give the Rays 14-16 the win before a lively Cinco de Mayo crowd of 16,604.

The next most important development might have been the 12th-inning work of struggling reliever Ruddy Lugo, who worked his way through the middle of the Oakland lineup, allowing only a two-out double to Nick Swisher and escaping further damage.

The Rays tied the score twice on home runs by Ty Wigginton, a one-out shot in the seventh off ex-Ray Joe Kennedy and a leadoff blast in the ninth off Oakland closer Huston Street. It was Wigginton's fourth multiple-homer game.

The Rays came close to winning later in the inning. After Jorge Cantu's two-out single, Josh Paul's bid for a walkoff homer landed just to the foul side of the yellow pole at the 315-foot spot on the newly lowered 5-foot wall.

The game unfolded as a duel between the Rays' left-handed ace of the past, Kennedy, and their one of the present and future, Scott Kazmir.

Kazmir threw well but, as has too often been the case, he threw too many pitches (105, including 40 called balls) and pitched his way out of the game after six innings.

The Rays had to rally in the ninth because their middle relievers failed them again. At some point, you'd think, either the ones they have are going to stop giving up runs or they are going to get different ones.

In the seventh, down 1-0, Gary Glover came on and walked two of the three hitters he faced, though Shawn Camp relieved him and did his job perfectly, getting Shannon Stewart to ground into a double play. And Wigginton made it even better with his tying homer.

Reluctant to take Camp out of his niche, manager Joe Maddon switched to Jae Kuk Ryu to start the eighth and that didn't go well either. Ryu got the first hitter out, walked the second, then allowed back-to-back singles, with Swisher scoring as leftfielder Carl Crawford's throw was off-target.

The only run Kazmir allowed came almost accidentally in the third, an infield bouncer by Chris Snelling that B.J. Upton couldn't quite make a play on, an at-bat extended when Wigginton dropped a foul popup and a soft single that fell in front of Elijah Dukes.

Except for Delmon Young, who walked twice in a big-league game for the first time, the Rays abandoned their usually patient approach, forcing Kennedy to throw only 81 pitches over seven innings.

And Kennedy made the best of it, limiting the Rays to one hit through the first six innings in his first start as a visitor to the Trop, then gave up the homer to Wigginton as he worked into the seventh for the first time this season.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8801. View his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/rays.

 

Rays 3

Athletics 2

12 innings