Devil Rays 7, Royals 2

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are a different team in the late innings.

Jorge Cantu hit a go-ahead, three-run double with two outs in the seventh inning, and the Devil Rays beat Kansas City 7-2 Friday night to extend the Royals’ losing streak to five.

Tampa Bay has come from behind in four of its five victories. Three times the Devil Rays have rallied to win when behind after six innings.

“I think they’re turning it up in tight situations and I like it,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “Our guys, as the game gets later, it just seems like their focus gets better at the plate.”

The Devil Rays have been outscored 52-22 through five innings this season. They have a 36-17 advantage over the final four.

Trailing 2-0, Tampa Bay loaded the bases against Scott Elarton with one out in the seventh on two walks and a bunt single. Elmer Dessens relieved and retired Carl Crawford on a grounder, and Cantu doubled to center for a 3-2 lead.

“I get a little excited when I’ve got runners in scoring position,” Cantu said. “All I think is, drive that guy in, that’s bottom line.”

Cantu returned to the lineup Thursday for the first time since bruising his left foot Apr. 7 when he hit a foul ball off it. There is still some soreness.

“Sometimes it’s like a little stinger,” Cantu said. “Sometimes when I swing I feel it. I’m just trying to not think about it and just swing the bat.”

Toby Hall hit an RBI single in the eighth and Crawford’s two-out grounder was misplayed by first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz—a seventh-inning defensive replacement—for a three-run error.

“We are just going through one of those spells,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said.

Devil Rays starter Scott Kazmir gave up two runs and four hits in six innings, struck out six and walked four. Travis Harper (1-0) finished with hitless relief.

“In the late innings, we’re tough,” Kazmir said.

Elarton (0-3) gave up three runs, three hits and six walks in 6 1-3 innings. He got little offensive support in losing his earlier two starts this season against Detroit and the Chicago White Sox by identical 3-1 scores. In those outings, he allowed five runs in 13 2-3 innings.

“I really did pitch poorly,” said Elarton, who threw 59 of 107 pitches for strikes Friday. “I struggled with command. The good pitchers figure out a way to get it done, and I didn’t do that.”

Kansas City pitchers walked seven, raising their total to 27 in the last four games.

“I guess it’s contagious,” Bell said.

Angel Berroa’s leadoff infield single, Mark Teahen’s RBI triple and John Buck’s sacrifice fly gave the Royals a 2-0 lead in the fifth.

Kansas City’s Reggie Sanders doubled in the sixth and then picked up his first stolen base of the year when stole third. Sanders needs two stolen bases and five homers to join Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Willie Mays and Andre Dawson as the only major leaguers with 300 steals and 300 homers.

Notes

All seven Tampa Bay runs came with two outs. … Bell said LHP Mark Redman (left knee) will rejoin the team and start Sunday’s game. … The Devil Rays activated 3B Sean Burroughs (back strain) from the 15-day DL. … Kansas City DH Mike Sweeney (bruised right hand) started after missing two games. He was hit on a hand Tuesday by a Mariano Rivera pitch. … Royals CF David DeJesus (left hamstring) is expected to start Saturday. He has been out of the lineup the past six games.

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