Devil Rays 2, Royals 0

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—The Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ 13-game homestand is off to a great start.

Bell and three relievers combined on a four-hitter, and Tino Martinez had three hits and an RBI to lead Tampa Bay to a 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night.

The Devil Rays outscored the Royals 18-3 in sweeping the three-game series.

“Three in a row at the start of a big homestand, we’re off the right way,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “It should give us a little momentum going into the weekend series with the (Toronto) Blue Jays.”

Bell (4-4) struck out three and walked two in 6 1-3 scoreless innings in the Devil Rays’ third straight win following a six-game losing streak. Jesus Colome and Trever Miller pitched a scoreless 1 2-3 innings, and Danys Baez threw a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 22 opportunities.

Tampa Bay pitchers haven’t allowed an earned run in 20 innings. Mark Hendrickson gave up an unearned run in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 10-1 win over the Royals.

“Pitching on the heels of that performance, it’s a tough thing to do,” Bell said. “You have to capitalize on an opportunity to beat a team that’s struggling coming in to play against you.”

Kansas City has lost seven straight, and has scored just 11 runs over the stretch.

Royals first baseman Ken Harvey was taken out of the game by manager Tony Pena for not running out a pop fly in the fourth.

“Either we’re going to play the game right or people are going to be on the bench,” Pena said. “I ask my players to run the ball out. Whoever doesn’t run the ball out, I’m going to take him out of the game. It’s inexcusable.”

Harvey said he ran all the way to the bag on the ball that was caught by first baseman Martinez.

“I thought it was good enough, but I didn’t run hard enough,” Harvey said. “What I can do? That’s his decision. End of story.

“I feel like I play hard everyday. I’m not trying to make this into a battle of what I do, but I think my effort speaks for itself everyday. Ask my teammates … I play hard. I don’t think I’m a loafer. If I’m the scapegoat, I guess I’ll be that guy.”

Mike Wood (1-3) allowed two runs and seven hits in a career-high seven innings. He’s 0-3 in five starts since winning his first start of the season June 29.

Rocco Baldelli had a run-scoring grounder and Martinez hit an RBI single to put the Devil Rays up 2-0 in the third.

“We want to take advantage of being home and hopefully pile up the wins,” Martinez said. “It was definitely a good three games.”

Wood kept the Royals within two runs by inducing an inning-ending double play by Toby Hall with the bases loaded in the sixth.

“Wood did a great job,” Pena said. “Too bad that we didn’t get any offense for him.”

Kansas City had runners on first and third with one out in the second, but failed to score. Bell struck out Dee Brown and retired Alberto Castillo on a grounder.

The Royals had a runner reach in seven of the first eight innings. They went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring period over the period.

Plate umpire Tim Tschida warned both benches after Wood threw a pitch that was belt-high behind Hall in the fourth. Kansas City’s David DeJesus reached base when he was grazed by a pitch from Bell leading off the first.

Notes

The Royals optioned LHP Jimmy Gobble to Triple-A Omaha after the game. They’ll add a player Friday. … Martinez has 14 hits in his past 25 at-bats. … Kansas City completed a nine-game road trip with just one win. The Royals begin a 10-game homestand Friday against Cleveland. … Baldelli has nine RBIs in his last six games. … Royals SS Angel Berroa went 0-for-4 and is hitless in 15 at-bats. … The Devil Rays are 22-10 at home since May 20. … Kansas City outfielder Juan Gonzalez is expected to miss the rest of the season with a lower back injury. He’s been sidelined since May 22.

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