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Not your average victory

Boggs, McGriff get hits then get hurt, though neither injury is serious. Oh, Rays win 7-1.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 5, 1999


SEATTLE -- The Devil Rays put an end to a five-game losing streak Wednesday night with a 7-1 victory over Seattle, but the final score was not nearly as interesting as some of the events that transpired during the game.

Wade Boggs, who singled in the second inning to draw within three hits of the 3,000 milestone, left the game in the fifth inning with slight inflammation and fluid in his right knee. He came out for what amounted to precautionary reasons. He is expected to be in the lineup Friday.

"I couldn't take a chance. He went as far as he could go," manager Larry Rothschild said.

LAST CHANCE: Strawberry warned not to screw up as he heads to minors. 4C

TWO SHY: 3-for-4 night gives Gwynn 2,998 career hits. 4C

* * *

Fred McGriff, who hit a two-run blast in the first inning to extend his somewhat interesting record of homering in 36 major-league parks, was slowed so much by a sore left leg that he had to come out after a sixth-inning single. He was replaced on the bases by rookie pitcher Mickey Callaway, who promptly got thrown out after taking too wide of a turn at second. McGriff also is expected back Friday.

Dave Eiland, who went nearly four years between major-league victories, won for the second time in less than a month, matching his career high by improving to 2-6. It was an, uh, eventful end to a long road trip that saw the Rays go 1-5 amid the distractions of the trading deadline and the reality of continuing injuries, but at least they left for an all-night flight home on a somewhat positive note.

"It's nice to get the last one anyway," Rothschild said. "It'll make the plane flight shorter."

McGriff missed the three games in Oakland with a strained left quadriceps, but served as the DH in the first two games here with no apparent problems.

He got things started with a two-run blast in the first, driving a 1-and-1 pitch high over the 385-foot sign in right-center, but an extraordinarily slow home run trot, which drew some jeers from the Safeco Field crowd of 42,336, was the first hint that something wasn't right.

McGriff one-hopped the centerfield wall but settled for a single in the third, flied out in the fourth, then singled again in the sixth. With the Rays up 5-0, Rothschild sent Callaway out to replace him.

Bubba Trammell singled down the leftfield line, and when Callaway made a big turn at second, Brian Hunter threw behind him to end the inning, and probably Callaway's pinch-running career.

Eiland had spent parts of eight seasons in the majors and had won just six games. But the 33-year-old Pasco County product has gotten something of a chance in Tampa Bay's injury-ravaged rotation and made the best of it.

He went six shutout innings, scattering five hits and walking one. In nine starts he is 2-5 with a 3.97 ERA.

The Rays added to their lead with two runs in the second, chasing Seattle rookie starter Gil Meche in the process. They had men on first and third with two out after singles by Aaron Ledesma and Mike DiFelice. Meche bounced a 2-and-2 pitch to Terrell Lowery, allowing Ledesma to race home. Lowery followed with a double to make it 4-0 and finish Meche's night.

In the fourth, after DiFelice one-hopped the centerfield wall for a double as part of his four-hit night, Lowery reached on an error. DiFelice went to third on a fielder's choice and scored when third baseman Russ Davis booted Tony Graffanino's grounder.

DiFelice added a two-run homer off Frankie Rodriguez in the ninth.

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