Devil Rays 6, Royals 3

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Aubrey Huff can’t wait until Sunday afternoon.

Huff homered and drove in four runs and Casey Fossum took a shutout into the eighth inning, leading the Tampa Bay Devil Rays past the Kansas City Royals 6-3 on Friday night.

Huff has become a focal point in trade talks involving the Devil Rays before Sunday’s deadline for non-waiver deals. Latest speculation includes Huff ending up with Boston, which recently placed outfielder Trot Nixon on the disabled list and could be exploring potential deals for left fielder Manny Ramirez.

“If something happens, you can’t really worry about it or think about it,” Huff said. “I guess when you get traded, it’s a compliment. Somebody wants you.”

“It could be Boston tonight … it could be somebody else the next night. You can’t pay attention to it. Last year at this time, there were rumors with me, too, and I’m still here. You never know.”

It’s believed that if a deal involving Huff, or closer Danys Baez, is completed, it could take place Saturday.

Scouts from several teams—including the New York Mets, Atlanta, Texas and the Chicago White Sox—have been at Tropicana Field. The Red Sox completed a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

Fossum (6-8) held the Royals scoreless until David DeJesus—his last batter of the game—hit a one-out RBI double in the eighth. The left-hander ended up allowing two runs and six hits in 7 1-3 innings. He struck out five and walked one.

“I’m going out there and putting the ball exactly where I want it,” Fossum said. “I’m not giving in to hitters in certain fastball counts. I’m just going right after the hitters.”

The Devil Rays are 10-5 since the All-Star break. Fossum and Scott Kazmir are 6-1 during that stretch.

The victory moved Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella (1,490-1,391) within one win of tying Hall of Famer Clark Griffith for 18th place on the career list.

Huff hit a three-run shot off D.J. Carrasco (5-5) during a four-run first. He has four homers and 16 RBIs in his last nine games. The other run in the first scored on Jonny Gomes’ single.

“When Huff hits, we score more runs … that’s obvious,” Piniella said. “Get on the board in the first inning with a three-run homer, that’s big.”

Huff made it 5-0 with an RBI single against Leo Nunez in the seventh.

“It’s the best I’ve felt all year,” Huff said.

Baez pitched a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 27 opportunities.

Kansas City scored five times in the first two innings of Thursday’s 10-5 loss at Tampa Bay, but then failed to score in 14 consecutive innings before DeJesus’ run-scoring double. Pinch-hitter Terrence Long added an RBI single off Travis Harper, and Emil Brown drove in a run with a single against Joe Borowski to get Kansas City to 5-3.

“If we produced early in the game, the story could have been different,” Royals catcher Alberto Castillo said. “But I think (Fossum) threw the ball real well.”

Alex Gonzalez’s RBI grounder made it 6-3 in the eighth.

Carrasco gave up four runs and six innings in six innings. He had three strikeouts and four walks.

“They’re good bad-ball hitters,” Carrasco said. “There’s balls four or five inches off the ground and these guys still hit that pitch. You’ve got to be careful and not leave something over the middle of the plate, but yet try to get a pitch that they can’t really drive.”


Huff has 13 homers. Six have been three-run shots and two were grand slams. … Royals manager Buddy Bell said he plans to give C John Buck, hitless in his last 10 at-bats, a couple days off. Castillo, who replaced Buck, went 2-for-2 with a walk.

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