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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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It's a blah kind of night
The Rays' strong run hits a bump as the Orioles pull away late.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published September 5, 2007
Joe Maddon pulls Dan Wheeler with the bases loaded in the eighth after the reliever gave up the go-ahead run. Ramon Hernandez then doubled off Scott Dohmann.
[Times photo: James Borchuck]
[Times photo: James Borchuck]
Melvin Mora high-fives Aubrey Huff after both scored on Ramon Hernandez's bases-clearing double in the eighth inning. Huff had three hits against the Rays, including a home run, his seventh this season (out of 15 total) off his former team.
ST. PETERSBURG - There weren't any blatantly blown calls or any milestone hits. The closest thing to a memorable moment might have been Baltimore's Kevin Millar calling time to tell the Tropicana Field heckler he'd heard enough.
Tuesday was just one of those nights, the kind the Rays hadn't had many of during their recent run. Scott Kazmir wasn't as crisp as he had been, the offense wasn't as productive, and the bullpen wasn't as effective.
And the Rays weren't as successful, losing 8-4 to the Orioles and falling four games back in their bid to escape last place.
"Our guys have been playing at a very high level emotionally with a lot of intensity, and they got us tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Pure and simple, they got us."
As usual with the Rays 57-82, the challenge is keeping one bad night from turning into several, especially after a stretch in which they won nine of 11 and seemed to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, the chance of losing 100 games.
Kazmir - who was cheered on by celeb/model Jenn Sterger - didn't pitch that poorly, allowing four runs (though on a season-high-matching nine hits) over seven innings. But he made too many mistakes and admitted he was frustrated from the first inning on, when he gave up a homer on an 0-and-2 pitch to Corey Patterson, then a second run when another ground ball eluded defensively slumping shortstop Josh Wilson.
"There are a couple pitches I really wish I had back," Kazmir said.
Still, he kept the Rays in the game and was in line for his 12th win until he left a first-pitch fastball over the plate to Aubrey Huff in the seventh, and the ex-Ray deposited it over the right-centerfield fence.
Huff, who later singled in the Orioles' four-run eighth, lost his place in the Rays record book Monday when Carlos Pena broke the single-season home run record, but he has found other ways to leave his mark.
Seven of his 15 homers have come against the Rays and Huff, who was traded to Houston in July 2006 and signed with Baltimore, is hitting .393 against the Rays, .258 against everyone else.
"He's killing us," Maddon said.
The Rays had already gotten big hits from Wilson and B.J. Upton, who followed an intentional bases-loading walk to Pena with a two-run single in the fifth, then tied it by scoring a run in the seventh without a hit.
But Dan Wheeler, 0-3 with a 6.60 ERA since joining the Rays, couldn't keep it that way in the eighth, allowing singles to four of the five batters he faced as the Orioles went up 5-4 and had the bases loaded. Scott Dohmann had allowed only one of his first eight inherited runners to score, but three raced home on one swing when Ramon Hernandez clubbed his high fastball for a three-run double.
"It's kind of frustrating because I felt like I've been throwing the ball good," Wheeler said, "then I go out there and do that and kind of waste the game away."
That was it for the Rays, which meant the hecker, Rob Szasz, had a better night. "He made a comeback as the game was in progress," Maddon said. "He started picking on somebody else."
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org View his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/rays.