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Rays 5, Red Sox 2: Glover gives up body for the cause

The reliever saves a depleted pen, getting seven outs to help end eight-game skid.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published July 30, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - Dan Wheeler hadn't arrived yet, Al Reyes and Grant Balfour weren't available and the other struggling relievers were, well, not exactly an appealing Plan B.

The Devil Rays had a chance to beat the Red Sox, to snap an eight-game losing streak and to feel good about themselves for the first time in a while Sunday, and they had Gary Glover to get them there.

The 30-year-old journeyman got the last out of the seventh, then, after the Rays took a five-run lead, the three outs in the eighth around back-to-back solo homers, and then the three outs in the ninth - that's seven overall, on a whopping 50 pitches - to seal a 5-2 victory over the best-in-baseball Red Sox.

"Tremendous," manager Joe Maddon said. "We needed that big time. ... I know it was a lot of pitches but we really had not a lot of recourse at that point to get it done."

With hefty ice packs strapped to his arm and shoulder, and joking that he might go back to the trainers' room for another round, Glover stood uncomfortably in the spotlight at his locker and said he simply did what the team needed done.

"I was reaching down, I was trying to get every little bit left out of this body that I had at the time," he said. "It was important for this team to get a W."

Glover - who has quietly become the Rays' most dependable late-inning reliever this side of Reyes, and who will get help with today's arrival of Wheeler - earned the bullpen's first win since June 23, but he didn't do it all before 34,813 at Tropicana Field. Scott Kazmir turned in another strong start with six shutout innings, and the hitters battled through six equally solid innings from Japanese sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka to break through in the seventh.

A staccato burst of offense gave them a five-run lead, a team-record-tying three homers (in a 17-pitch span) producing the biggest inning of their past 86, going back to July 20 in New York.

Struggling Dioner Navarro, with back-to-back multihit games since backup Josh Paul came off the disabled list, had the first one, a one-out shot on Matsuzaka's 0-and-2 pitch.

"It feels good, not just for me but for the team," Navarro said.

Josh Wilson's single chased Matsuzaka (12-8), who lost for the third time in his past five. Reliever Manny Delcarmen, who'd allowed one run in his past 12 appearances, got an out and allowed a single, bringing pitching coach John Farrell to the mound.

B.J. Upton wasn't concerned with their strategy - "I was looking fastball and I got it," he said - and crushed a three-run blast to left, his fourth homer in the past 10 games and 13th overall. "The ball has a different sound when it hits his bat," Maddon said.

Carlos Pena took a pitch, then made it back-to-back homers with his 25th of the season, third most in the American League, and Glover took it from there.

Once again, the Rays (39-65) hope the end of a losing streak is the start of something. "I've had enough of those," Maddon said. "It's about time we had a couple of eight-game winning streaks going on."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com View his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/rays.