Devil Rays 6, Indians 3

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Jose Cruz Jr. has found a groove at the plate.

Cruz homered and drove in four runs, leading the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to their first three-game winning streak of the season with a 6-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday night.

“I think having success creates confidence,” Cruz said. “Battling, I think that’s going to be the signature of success.”

Cruz is 7-for-11 with two homers and eight RBIs in the past three games. He hit a three-run shot in the first and made it 4-3 with an RBI grounder in the sixth.

“The guy is hot right now,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said.

Tino Martinez hit a two-run double in the eighth to put Tampa Bay up 6-3, sending the Indians to their fourth loss in a row.

Doug Waechter (2-4) snapped a personal four-game losing streak, allowing three runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings. Jorge Sosa went the final 2 2-3 innings for his first career save.

The Devil Rays’ bullpen has not allowed a run in 19 innings.

“They’re lights out right now,” Waechter said.

Victor Martinez hit one of Cleveland’s three solo homers. Since moving into the cleanup spot May 3, Martinez has four homers and 24 RBIs in 17 starts.

Jake Westbrook (3-2) gave up five runs and five hits in 7 2-3 innings.

“It was definitely weird,” Westbrook said. “I felt like I pitched well. I just came out on the wrong end.”

Cruz put the Devil Rays up 3-0 with his three-run shot in the first. He went 4-for-4 with three doubles and a solo homer in Friday’s 5-3 win. The five consecutive extra-base hits set a Tampa Bay record.

The Indians tied it at 3 on homers by Travis Hafner in the second inning, Matt Lawton in the third and Martinez in the fourth off Waechter, who has allowed 11 homers in 36 2-3 innings.

“The kid battled,” Devil Rays catcher Brook Fordyce said. “If you’re going to give up home runs, you might as well make them solos. It’s tough to get beat on solo homers.”

Fourteen of the 16 earned runs Waechter has given up this season have come on home runs. He got 13 flyouts Saturday, including several that reached the warning track.

“We had a lot of hard outs,” Wedge said. “We never really put anything together.”

It took the Devil Rays 40 games to win two straight this year. They were the 11th team to go that deep into a season without consecutive victories.

Tampa Bay’s last three-game winning streak was Sept. 6-9.

“What it really shows is that we’ve pieced together three good games,” manager Lou Piniella said. “Our bullpen, truthfully, has been a big part of it. I’m not going to make any predictions, but let’s just continue to playhard, and if that happens, there’s a chance we can get things going.”

Notes

The Devil Rays have held the Indians to six runs and 11 hits in the past two games. Cleveland had 27 runs and 31 hits in sweeping a three-game series last weekend against Tampa Bay. … Piniella said SS Julio Lugo, who has played in all 41 games this season, will be rested Sunday. Lugo has a team-best 25 RBIs. … Cruz has two homers in seven at-bats against Westbrook. … Hafner has seven RBIs in his past five games. … Devil Rays DH Robert Fick went 0-for-3 and has one hit in his last 37 at-bats. … The Indians have outscoredtheir opponents 34-7 in the second inning.

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