Devil Rays 8, Royals 6
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—The Tampa Bay Devil Rays had almost forgotten what it felt like to win.
The Devil Rays came from behind twice Saturday night to beat the Kansas City Royals 8-6, snapping a 12-game losing streak, the second-longest in team history.
“I didn’t know what to do after we won,” said Julio Lugo, who had three doubles. “I didn’t know if we were supposed to smile or cry. It’s good to get that out of the way.”
Tampa Bay, which had not won since beating Seattle on Aug. 25, overcame deficits of 4-2 and 6-5, going ahead for good in a two-run seventh. Lugo hit his third double of the game and scored on a wild pitch by Jimmy Serrano (1-2), Aubrey Huff tripled and Jose Cruz Jr. hit his second sacrifice fly. Carl Crawford added an RBI single in the eighth off Jaime Cerda.
Lugo leads the Devil Rays with 35 doubles and tied the team record for a game.
“It’s very satisfying for me to get some hits,” Lugo said. “The thing I like the most is that I was able to help the team do something.”
“It went back and forth the whole game,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “We’re fortunate that we came out on top. Let’s see if this relaxes our team a little bit. Now we’ll see if we can go out and play a little better.”
Tampa Bay, which wasted leads of 2-1 and 5-4, stopped its skid three shy of the team record, set from April 25 to May 10, 2002. The Devil Rays, who won 12 in a row from June 9-22, joined the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers as the only major league teams with 12-game winning and losing streaks in the same year.
John Buck had three hits and homered for Kansas City.
Royals starter Jimmy Gobble allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings.
Tampa Bay starter Doug Waechter gave up four runs, six hits and three walks in three innings.
“Waechter doesn’t look anything at all like the pitcher we brought up here last year,” Piniella said. “I’m going to have a nice talk with him (Sunday). I don’t know if his finger is still bothering him or if he’s just rusty, but he had no rhythm.”
Waechter missed 79 games with a strained tendon in his right middle finger. This was his second start since being activated Sept. 6.
Lugo hit an RBI double in the first and scored on Cruz’s sacrifice fly, but Abraham Nunez had an RBI single in the bottom half. Angel Berroa was caught off second by Rocco Baldelli after Nunez’s single for the center fielder’s 11th assist, tied for the lead among AL outfielders. Baldelli, who had 14 assists last year, is trying to become the first outfielder to lead the AL in his initial two seasons.
Baldelli also homered and singled in the victory.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “It’s been so long that you almost forget how it feels to walk off the field and slap hands. We’ve been pressing and struggling. This win is big, but we’ve got to come back tomorrow and win again.”
Buck’s RBI double tied it in the second, and Kansas City took a 4-2 lead in the third on run-scoring singles by Matt Stairs and Ken Harvey, who stopped an 0-for-15 slide. Tampa Bay went ahead in the fourth on Lugo’s RBI double and Baldelli’s two-run homer that just missed the left-field foul pole.
The Royals tied it in the bottom half , then went ahead on Buck’s homer off Bell in the sixth.
Crawford stole his AL-leading 52nd base in the second inning. … Stairs got his first steal since June 2002. … 3B Geoff Blum’s miscue extended the Devil Rays’ team-record streak of games with an error to 11. … The Royals have gone 55 consecutive series without a sweep. Their last sweep was against Texas in August 2003.