Dodgers 6, Devil Rays 3

Preview | Box Score | Recap

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Luis Gonzalez made the most of a rare trip home.

Gonzalez homered and had two RBIs, and Russell Martin hit a two-run single to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-3 Friday night.

“We’re proud of the job he’s been doing for us all season long,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said of Gonzalez. “Recently he’s probably been our most effective hitter day in and day out.”

Gonzalez, who is from nearby Tampa, hit a solo homer in a two-run second and added an RBI triple in a two-run eighth that put the Dodgers ahead 6-3. It was his first home run at Tropicana Field since he connected for the first homer ever at the stadium while playing for Detroit on March 31, 1998.

“It’s nice to come home for me, obviously,” said Gonzalez, who had around 30 family members and friends in attendance. “I’m more concerned about winning games. I think my family has seen me take enough 0-for-4s or 3-for-4s and things like that, so they know how important it is for us to win games. I want to try to get back to winning a championship again. It’s an exciting time, and we’ve got a good enough team here to do it.”

Gonzalez joined Olmedo Saenz, Mike Kinkade and Chad Kreuter as the only Dodgers to homer as a designated hitter.

Martin’s single gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead in the fifth.

Derek Lowe (8-6) gave up three runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings.

“Lowe is pretty good,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s got the ultimate bowling ball sinker out there.”

Lowe struck out five and walked one.

“Today was an offensive win,” Lowe said. “The offense did a tremendous job for me. I give them credit.”

Takashi Saito pitched the ninth for his 20th save in 21 chances, striking out Jonny Gomes to end the game with two on.

Delmon Young homered and drove in two runs for the Devil Rays. Andy Sonnanstine (1-2) allowed four runs and 10 hits in seven innings.

Young had an RBI single in the fifth, then cut the Devil Rays deficit to 4-3 with a seventh-inning solo homer. Carl Crawford hit a run-scoring triple during the sixth.

“It was just one of those nights when the other team played better than us,” Crawford said.

Tampa Bay optioned troubled outfielder Elijah Dukes to the minors and placed him on the temporary inactive list before the game, a move the Devil Rays hope will enable the 22-year-old rookie to get his personal life on track.

Dukes, whose temper has been a concern ever since the team selected him in the third round of the 2002 amateur draft, has been under constant scrutiny since his estranged wife revealed she sought a restraining order after being threatened by the athlete last month.

“We just wish him well,” Devil Rays first baseman Carlos Pena said. “We’re going to stay in touch with him. He’s going to get back on his feet. We’re going to do the best we can to be there for him.”

The Devil Rays (31-40) also held a team meeting before batting practice. Maddon said Dukes’ situation was not addressed during the 25-minute session.

“We didn’t talk about him at all,” Maddon said. “We’re going to keep advancing forward. I just talked to the players about things, for instance, when you look at our record right now, if we had just done a couple other things properly that record would actually be reversed. I wanted to do it now because I believe we’re a lot closer than a lot of people realize.”


Los Angeles CF Juan Pierre played in his 345th consecutive game, the longest current streak in the majors after Baltimore SS Miguel Tejada was placed on the 15-day DL Friday with a non-displaced fracture of his left wrist, which ended his streak of consecutive games played at 1,152. … The Devil Rays purchased the contract of OF Dustan Mohr from Triple-A Durham.

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