Devil Rays 2, Athletics 1

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Dewon Brazelton has become a streak stopper.

The right-hander pitched seven strong innings, and Jose Cruz Jr. hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth to lift the Tampa Bay Devil Rays over the Oakland Athletics 2-1 on Sunday.

Brazelton (6-4) gave up one run and five hits to improve to 6-1 at home this season.

“I’m just trying to throw strikes and give my team a chance to win,” Brazelton said.

Cruz’s solo shot broke a 1-1 tie and helped the Devil Rays snap a four-game losing streak and win for just the second time in 12 games.

Brazelton also snapped Tampa Bay’s six-game losing streak in an 8-3 win over Anaheim on Tuesday.

“That’s exactly what he pitched like … pitched like a stopper,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “Two really nice ballgames. There’s a kid that last year was pitching in the California League at this time.”

Brazelton went 1-6 with Tampa Bay in 10 starts last season before being sent to Class-A Bakersfield to work on mechanics.

Jesus Colome pitched the final two innings for his third save.

Erubiel Durazo homered for Oakland, which has hit 15 home runs in five games. The Athletics went 5-1 on a six-game road trip.

“It was a great trip,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “I’ll take 5-1 anytime.”

Mark Redman (9-10) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings for the AL-West leading Athletics, who hold a one-half game lead over Texas and Anaheim.

“We can’t sit there and watch the scoreboard,” Redman said. “We have to take care of our own business, and that’s winning ballgames.”

Devil Rays All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford and infielder Aubrey Huff were out of the starting lineup because of injuries. Both are day to day.

Crawford, the major league stolen base leader, bruised his right shoulder on two diving catch attempts Saturday. He took one round of batting practice Sunday before leaving the field to undergo treatment, but came in to play center field in the ninth inning.

Huff, who leads the Devil Rays with 22 homers and 80 RBIs, left Saturday after one inning with back spasms. He had played in 398 consecutive games, which was the second longest active streak in the majors behind Baltimore’s Miguel Tejada (716).

Cruz hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to put the Devil Rays ahead 1-0 in the first.

Tampa Bay lost a run in the third on poor base running.

Jorge Cantu hit a two-out single with runners on first and second. Tino Martinez, the runner on second, appeared to slow up and didn’t cross the plate before center fielder Mark Kotsay threw out Cruz, who was attempting to go from first to third.

Home plate umpire Kevin Kelley immediately ruled that Martinez didn’t score before the third out was made.

Durazo tied it at 1 with a solo homer in the fourth. He has four homers and 12 RBIs in six games against Tampa Bay this season.

Durazo was drilled in the back by Brazelton’s pitch leading off the seventh. He took one step toward the mound before heading to first while being shadowed by Kelley and Tampa Bay catcher Brook Fordyce.

“I didn’t mean to hit the guy,” Brazelton said. “He hit a home run last time. Great. That’s fine. But the next time he gets up, I’ve got to go inside on him because he’s leaning out over the plate. With the first pitch of the inning, I don’t want to make a mistake over the plate.”

Oakland outfielder Eric Byrnes thought it was intentional.

“Absolutely,” Byrnes said. “I think you can generally look at a pitcher’s reaction and see whether it’s intentional or not. It’s too bad.”

No warning was issued by the umpires.

“We’re looking forward to playing these guys again … that’s for sure,” Byrnes said.


Oakland OF Jermaine Dye (sore left thumb) sat out his third straight game. He might play Monday. … Devil Rays closer Danys Baez missed the game to tend to a personal matter. He will join the team Monday in Seattle. … Tampa Bay will call up LHP Scott Kazmir from Double-A Montgomery to start Monday against the Mariners.

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