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Rekar rolls by Royals

Rays win 10-3 behind pitcher's first complete-game victory in five-plus years.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 29, 2000


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Devil Rays made two trades Friday designed to bolster their starting rotation in the future.

Friday night, Bryan Rekar spoke up pretty well for the present.

photo
[AP photo]
Rays starter Bryan Rekar turns in another strong performance. For a change, he gets a win out of it.
Rekar threw an eight-hitter for his first complete-game victory in more than five years as the Devil Rays scored a 10-3 victory over the Royals.

Gerald Williams again was in the middle of the offense, driving in three runs for a career-best 69 on the season, and Fred McGriff had three hits.

The victory was the Rays' third straight, matching their high for the season. "I guess that's good for now," said manager Larry Rothschild, who returned from a two-game suspension. "I wish it was a few more games we had to win to get there."

Rekar impressed from the start, working effectively despite a stiff neck and keeping the ball down. "I thought he was outstanding," Rothschild said.

"He pitched very well," Royals manager Tony Muser said. "He had pop on his fastball, he was sneaky, and he had good command of both sides of the plate."

Rekar has pitched well for much of the past two months, and he took another step in his development as a starter with the second complete-game victory of his career.

"It was nice to see him close the deal," Rothschild said. "It helped that we got the extra runs, but he got a team out that has been giving us problems late in the game, and he finished the game."

Rekar, whose neck has been stiff since he slept under a powerful air conditioner last weekend in New York, said consistency was the key. Friday's win was his first in five starts and third since June 1, but he has pitched to a 4.13 ERA during the 11-game stretch, and the Rays are 8-3. "I just tried to keep doing what I've been doing," he said.

Williams said that would be good enough. "We're expecting a lot from him; at least I am," Williams said. "He's got very good stuff and tremendous command, and I think he's going to be outstanding."

Rekar allowed four hits through the first seven innings, and he worked through his only tough situation in the eighth. He allowed a single and a double with one out but got Rey Sanchez on a sacrifice fly, then speared Mike Sweeney's bouncer for the third out.

Williams has been pretty good himself, especially lately. After going 3-for-5 Friday, knocking in runs with a third-inning single and a seventh-inning homer, he is hitting .355 through the first 10 games of the road rip with 13 RBI.

"I think it goes along with how the team is playing," Williams said. "I'm just making my contribution to winning baseball."

The Rays got three runs in the third, with Williams, Miguel Cairo and McGriff -- who is hitting .354 over his past 30 games -- contributing run-scoring singles.

After getting one run from a bases-loaded, no-outs situation in the sixth, the Rays got two in the seventh on Williams' 15th homer of the season and four in the ninth. McGriff, Jose Guillen and Castilla provided the runs.

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