Devil Rays 7, Royals 2

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—There’s nothing like a great play in the outfield to get a pitcher off to a good start.

Left fielder Carl Crawford brought a roar from the crowd Sunday when he made a running, diving leap and stretched out full length to snare David DeJesus’ drive in the gap.

Then a grateful Jorge Sosa went on to allow five hits in seven shutout innings and lead Tampa Bay to a 7-2 victory Sunday over the Kansas City Royals.

“It lifted me up,” Sosa said through a translator. “When somebody makes a great play, you get the feeling that today might be my day. I made a mistake and Carl bailed me out.”

Rocco Baldelli hit a two-run single, and Julio Lugo, Tino Martinez and Jose Cruz Jr. each had three hits for the Devil Rays, who had 15 hits and won their second straight following a 12-game losing streak. Tampa Bay also ended an 11-game streak of games with errors, a team record.

Crawford’s play probably saved a run because Abraham Nunez hit a pop fly double one out later.

“There isn’t another left fielder in baseball who can make that play,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. “Not a one.”

Crawford surprised even himself by making the play.

“It’s definitely one of the top catches I’ve ever made,” he said. “I didn’t think I had a play on it. But the next thing I just tried to jump and make the catch. It set the tone for the game.”

Sosa (4-4), a converted outfielder who had been 0-4 in his previous six starts since July 31, struck out seven and walked two. He allowed just one runner past second base.

“He’s got a good power arm, changes speeds, and he’s got a good slider,” Royals manager Tony Pena said. “But mainly he was able to throw strikes and consistently throw the ball down in the strike zone.”

Lance Carter finished, allowing Alberto Castillo’s sacrifice fly and DeJesus’ RBI single. Tampa Bay is 5-1 against Kansas City this year and is assured of winning the season series for just the second time, the first since 1999, when the Devil Rays went 8-2.

They won two of three from the Royals after getting swept four games in New York.

“Thank God we don’t see the Yankees any more this year,” Piniella said. “Let them go settle their differences somewhere else.” It’s not easy for us or any other team, but especially a team like ours, to start a road trip with four or five games in New York City. It’s tough duty.”

Denny Bautista (0-2), making his second major league start, gave up six runs, 11 hits and three walks in five-plus innings.

Martinez’s RBI double put the Devil Rays ahead in the fourth, and the Devil Rays made it 4-0 in the fifth on Crawford’s RBI single and a bases-loaded single by Baldelli, who has nine RBIs in his last four games.

Lugo chased Bautista with an RBI single in the sixth, and Aubrey Huff made it 6-0 with a run-scoring single off D.J. Carrasco. Toby Hall’s sacrifice fly off Matt Kinney in the seventh scored Martinez, who reached base four times on two singles, a walk and a double.


In Devil Rays have lost 23 of their last 29 road games. … Crawford stole his league-leading 53rd base in the sixth. … The Royals are 31-39 at home this year.

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