ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—The Tampa Bay Devil Rays honored Rafael Palmeiro with a video tribute before the second inning, then watched the newest member of baseball’s 500 home run club do his thing live.
The scoreboard presentation had barely ended Tuesday night when Palmerio hit No. 503 to move within one of Hall of Famer Eddie Murray for 18th on the career list. The solo shot helped the Texas Rangers beat the Devil Rays 4-2.
“I don’t know if that was a treat for them, but it worked out very nice for me,” said Palmeiro, who called the brief highlight film “a pleasant surprise.”
Palmeiro led off the second with his drive into the right-field seats off right-hander Carlos Reyes (0-1). Mark Teixeira and Juan Gonzalez also hit home runs for the Rangers, who lead the majors with 85 homers.
It was No. 13 this season for Palmeiro, who has three in his last four games to close in on Murray, a friend and former teammate in Baltimore.
“He was one of my favorites. I learned a lot from Eddie,” Palmeiro said. “To be able to catch him and pass him, it’s unbelievable really.”
Teixeira hit a two-run shot in the second, giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead against Reyes, who was making his first major league appearance in three years—a break that included a stint as a minor league pitching coach.
Colby Lewis (4-3) allowed one run on four hits in five-plus innings to win for the first time since beating Oakland 2-1 on April 20. The right-hander was 0-3 with a 12.31 ERA in six starts between victories.
Reyes, who allowed four runs and six hits in seven innings, had not started a big league game since Aug. 12, 1997, for Oakland at Baltimore. He had not pitched in the majors since making 12 relief appearances for the San Diego Padres three years ago.
“I’m not happy. I don’t feel I gave the team a chance to win,” Reyes said. “The second inning killed me. If they hit good pitches, OK. But those were not good pitches. There should not have been any home runs.”
The 34-year-old right-hander was a pitching coach in rookie ball for the Padres’ Idaho Falls affiliate in the Pioneer League in 2002. He was called up after going 5-1 with a 1.19 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Durham this season.
“He didn’t pitch poorly,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “He gave up some home runs to a club that’s leading the major leagues. I wouldn’t be too harsh.”
Reyes settled in after the second, limiting the Rangers to just one hit over the next four innings to keep Tampa Bay in the game.
The Devil Rays trimmed their deficit to 3-1 on Jared Sandberg’s RBI double in the fifth, but squandered an opportunity to pull closer when Julio Lugo struck out and Carl Crawford grounded to first to end the inning with runners at second and third.
Gonzalez led off the seventh with his 15th homer, ending a six-game RBI drought. Alex Rodriguez narrowly missed a homer in the eighth when he hit a fly ball that struck one of the left-field catwalks in foul territory.
It was initially ruled a home run. The call was changed to a foul ball after Piniella argued and all four umpires huddled for a review.
“It was a foul ball. They got it right,” Rangers manager Buck Showaltersaid. “That’s why I didn’t argue more.”
Palmeiro’s homer was the third of his career off Reyes. Another came July 8, 2000—the last game Reyes pitched in the majors before Tuesday night. … The solo shot moved Palmeiro ahead of Goose Goslin into 23rd on the career RBI list with 1,610. The Texas slugger tied Mel Ott for 19th on the extra-base list with 1,071. … Reyes is the 10th pitcher to start a game for Tampa Bay this season, one fewer than the Devil Rays used all of last year. … Tampa Bay designated LHP John Rocker for assignment to clear a spot for Reyes on the40-man roster.