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Rays brought back to reality

Tino Martinez's three-run homer in the sixth lifts Yanks to a 5-3 comeback win, snapping Tampa Bay's four-game winning streak.


© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 15, 2001

[AP photo]
New York Yankees' Tino Martinez, left, circles the bases after hitting a three-run home run in the sixth inning off pitcher Joe Kennedy.
NEW YORK -- It was what Toby Hall envisions the World Series being like.

A boisterous crowd in a shrine of a stadium, chanting for a home run, then getting it.

"That was amazing," Hall said after the Rays' 5-3 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday. "They're all chanting and they're yelling, "Tino!' It was pretty loud."

With one swing by Tampa native Tino Martinez, a Rays team loaded with rookies shifted focus and learned exactly what it means to play the Yankees.

Martinez's three-run home run in the sixth inning before an announced 34,521 at Yankee Stadium erased the Rays' one-run lead and ended their four-game winning streak.

"I just made a bad pitch to Tino," Rays rookie starter Joe Kennedy said. "I was trying to go down and away and I just threw a lazy fastball in the middle of the plate and up."

Added manager Hal McRae: "That was the difference in the ballgame. That one pitch."

The start of the game was delayed 96 minutes because of a persistent shower, but that had little effect on either team's pitchers.

Neither Kennedy nor Andy Pettitte had begun warming up.

The left-handed Kennedy, making his first start since Aug. 4, looked fresh and lasted six innings. Four of the five runs he allowed, however, came on home runs.

"It's tough to come back after 10 days," said Kennedy, who has lost his past seven decisions. "Mechanically I felt a lot better than I thought I would. Ten days off is good for the arm but. ... I felt good. It's just one pitch."

New York shortstop Derek Jeter sent the second pitch out of Kennedy's hand sailing into the rightfield seats in the first inning to give the Yankees the lead.

Kennedy (3-8) then settled down and retired three straight to get out of the inning. The Yankees made it 2-0 in the second after catcher Jorge Posada hit a leadoff single and came home on a single by Shane Spencer.

Kennedy retired seven of the next eight.

Meanwhile, Pettitte retired six straight to start the game, then allowed two runs in the third on a double by second baseman Brent Abernathy.

Jared Sandberg and Chris Gomez reached on singles before the hot-hitting rookie came up.

Abernathy, who was 15-for-33 in his past nine games, stroked a double to the gap in right-center that scored both runners and tied the score at 2.

Pettitte, now 7-1 lifetime against the Rays, lasted 71/3 innings and allowed all three runs. He struck out five and walked two.

The Rays added one in the fifth when designated hitter Ben Grieve lined a run-scoring single to right-centerfield that scored Jason Tyner from second base.

New York had ample chances to score in the bottom of the inning, but Hall threw two runners out at third, thwarting the three-time defending World Series champions.

The Yankees had runners on first and second with no out when Clay Bellinger laid down a bunt in front of home plate. Hall picked up the ball and threw to third for the forceout.

After a series of fake pickoff attempts to second, Alfonso Soriano took off and was caught stealing by Hall to essentially end the threat.

But Martinez continued the pressure on Kennedy in the next inning.

With the crowd chanting his name and two Rays relievers warming up, he hit his 27th home run of the season a few rows behind where Jeter's homer landed in the first.

Jason Standridge came in for Kennedy in the seventh. It was the 22-year-old's first appearance since winning in a spot start against the Yankees on Thursday at Tropicana Field.

Rookie Bobby Seay pitched a scoreless eighth in his major-league debut.

"This doesn't take away from anything that we've accomplished," McRae said. "It's a game we lost. We were in it. We were defeated and we lost."

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