tampabay.com

Rays slide by with 13 runs

By MARC TOPKIN
Published May 25, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - It was a game in which the starting pitcher allowed 13 hits in five-plus innings and got the victory. A game in which the hitters scored 12 runs in the first four innings but needed a season-most 13th to secure the win. A game in which the closer gave up a two-run homer and got the save.

And a game in which the single person who may have had the most to do with the outcome was the third-base coach.

Seattle's third-base coach.

With Carlos Garcia sending two runners who got thrown out, and later holding two runners who might have scored, the Devil Rays hung on for a wild, momentum-changing, stomach-churning 13-12 win Thursday that snapped a five-game losing streak.

"Forget about my stomach," manager Joe Maddon said, "it's about my brain. You only have so many brain cells to burn on a daily basis."

Maddon had lots to think about.

The recently stagnant Rays (19-27) got off to a sizzling start, with a season-high three runs in the first and a season-most seven in an 11-batter third. They extended the lead to 12-4 in the fourth, but - and not just because the Mariners were still playing their infield to prevent another run - the game didn't seem over.

As it turned out, the Rays needed the 13th run, and they got it when Ty Wigginton homered with one out in the eighth. The lead that Jae Seo and Tim Corcoran couldn't hold, and that Shawn Camp did, was now in the capable hands of closer Al Reyes, who, having allowed two hits all season in save situations, came on for the ninth with the Rays up 13-10.

He got two quick outs, then, naturally, gave up a walk, a two-run homer and a single that put the tying run on base, then struck out former Ray Jose Guillen for the final out and his 13th consecutive save.

"That kind of game is not easy to save," Reyes said. "It was a hitter's game."

"It's a W," Wigginton said. "To me, it's like we won 3-2."

The Rays won for a lot of reasons, including slow-footed catcher Dioner Navarro's first major-league triple. Carl Crawford had three RBIs, and every Rays hitter reached base.

Maddon said "the hero" was Camp, who got five huge outs, including a double play to end the eighth and stem Seattle's momentum.

But it's hard to downplay the contributions of Garcia, who foolishly sent Jose Lopez home in the second only to see him thrown out by Delmon Young, who picked up his sixth assist. "I was kind of surprised at that one," Maddon said.

Then Garcia sent Lopez again in the fourth in a bid for a leadoff inside-the-park home run despite trailing 10-4 at the time, and B.J. Upton and Brendan Harris teamed for a perfect relay.

"I thought there was no way he would get thrown out," Garcia said. "It makes me mad."

So much so that he didn't try later when the Mariners should have taken a chance.

And the Rays won despite a major reason, another poor performance by starter Seo, who continued to pitch his way out of the rotation, having now allowed a whopping 99 baserunners in 50 innings to go along with his 8.10 ERA.

"Wasn't one of his better days," Maddon said.

Might it be one of his last?

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