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Wind-blown blasts derail Fossum's start

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published May 17, 2007


LAKE BUENA VISTA - The wind at the Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex was blowing toward rightfield Wednesday night. Devil Rays LHP Casey Fossum realized that but couldn't manage to keep the ball from flying out of the park in that direction.

Fossum 3-3 won for the first time in four starts Wednesday in the Rays' 11-8 win over the Rangers, but over that span he has an 8.73 ERA and has allowed 32 hits in 212/3 innings.

In the previous starts, hits found holes, but Wednesday Fossum fell victim to the long ball. He allowed three home runs, and seven of the 10 homers he has allowed this season have been against the Rangers.

"In spite of some bad things that have occurred, I still believe he had been throwing the ball well, " Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Tonight he got some balls in some bad spots and the wind's blowing out to that part of the field. They just took advantage of the whole situation."

Each of Texas' homers went to the right half of the outfield, including Sammy Sosa's opposite-field, two-run shot in the fourth, the 597th of his career, which came after Fossum had retired eight of the first 10 batters. Two batters after Sosa, Victor Diaz homered to right-center. Fossum allowed a two-run shot, again to right-center, to Mark Teixeira in a three-run fifth.

"I started out strong, " Fossum said.

"I think I just needed to continue doing what I was doing instead of trying to overdo some things."

LEADOFF BATTER WANTED: With CF Rocco Baldelli out indefinitely, Maddon said CF Elijah Dukes will take over as the primary leadoff batter.

"I think he has the highest opportunity of getting on base for us, " said Maddon, who is favoring Dukes over 2B B.J. Upton because of Dukes' ability to draw a walk.

Batting leadoff for the second time, Dukes took starter Vicente Padilla's first pitch over the leftfield fence for his seventh homer to lead AL rookies. It was also the Rays' seventh run this season in the first, their fewest in any inning. He also walked twice.

MINOR MATTERS: Class A Vero Beach RHP Wade Davis struck out seven and walked two while allowing one run on six hits over 52/3 innings Wednesday. ... Double-A Montgomery 3B Evan Longoria did not play after leaving Tuesday's game after he was hit by a pitch on the left elbow. The injury isn't believed to be major. ... At Triple-A Durham, RHP Jason Hammel lasted just 42/3 innings, allowing six runs on five hits while walking four.

MISCELLANY: RHP Al Reyes converted his 12th save in as many attempts, breaking Danys Baez's club record to start a season (2004). ... The Rays are batting .360 (27-for-75) in this series. ... Fossum's win was his first away from Tropicana Field since June 28 at Florida. ... LF Carl Crawford's fifth-inning triple was the 68th of his career, tying Doc Hoblitzel for 10th all-time before the age of 26.

Eduardo A. Encina can be reached at eencina@sptimes.com.