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Vaughn, weather shower Rays with good fortune

Power outage due to storm helps Joe Kennedy win 8-4 as Greg Vaughn breaks out of a slump.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 26, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Dewon Brazelton wasn't the only good sign for Tampa Bay on Saturday.

Greg Vaughn, who had been in a miserable slump, had three hits. Joe Kennedy, who had lost seven in a row, won his second straight game, and did so without his best stuff.

And the Rays, who had lost two straight and some of the benefits from an extended run of good play, got an important victory, beating the White Sox 8-4.

"It was a win that we needed," manager Hal McRae said. "We've been stumbling a little bit. We appeared to be losing our momentum. It was a good one to win."

The day started ominously as a vicious storm caused the Tropicana Field roof to ripple, lights to sway and fans to shudder at the thunderclaps. A nearby lightning strike knocked out much of the stadium power and resulted in a 24-minute delay in the bottom of the first inning.

"I thought the roof was going to come off," leftfielder Jason Tyner said. "It must have been quite a storm."

The delay turned out to be a good thing, because it allowed Kennedy, who had loaded the bases and walked in a run in the first, to settle down.

"It actually helped a little bit," said Kennedy, who improved to 5-8. "The first inning I was struggling, I had no idea where the plate was. During the delay, I was able to get my composure and get my thoughts together and go out and focus on getting the job done."

Mission accomplished. Over the next five innings, Kennedy allowed four hits and two walks. Jesus Colome nearly let the Sox back into the game with a sloppy seventh, but the Rays got out of trouble when Tyner threw Jose Canseco out at the plate to maintain a 5-4 lead.

The Rays won because they were aggressive on the bases and swung the bats well, rapping 13 hits. But McRae said the key was their patience at the plate.

Tyner had three hits, Brent Abernathy scored two runs, Ben Grieve was on base three times and Randy Winn knocked in two runs, but the most important performance came from Vaughn.

The Rays' most proven hitter had one extra-base hit in three weeks and a .191 average over his previous 60 games. But he made an adjustment after looking at video from a few years ago and has been swinging better. He had a 6-for-18 stretch last week and looked even more like himself Saturday, ripping a pair of run-scoring doubles and a single.

"It's been a long time," Vaughn said. "To be able to help and contribute takes some of the pressure off these guys and makes everybody's job a lot easier."

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