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Updated: Thursday, August 7, 2003 11:49 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Kansas City Royals
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R H E
2 7 2
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
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R H E
3 7 2
W Gaudin (1-0)
L MacDougal (3-5)
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TAMPA BAY 3, KANSAS CITY 2
 

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- Out of the pennant race for weeks, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are making things difficult for the contenders.

The Devil Rays scored three times in the bottom of the ninth inning and rallied for a 3-2 victory over the first-place Kansas City Royals as Julio Lugo singled in Al Martin with the winning run.

Tampa Bay owns the American League's second-worst record but has won seven of its last 10 games and is 12-9 since the All-Star break.

"Our kids play hard. I've said that all year," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "It's fun for me and fun for my staff to see that enthusiasm. (It was) a nice inning for us and a nice win."

In this one, the Devil Rays totaled four hits through eight innings before rallying against closer Mike MacDougal (3-5). Toby Hall started the comeback with a single and Travis Lee reached on error by second baseman Carlos Febles , whose throw to shortstop Angel Berroa bounced off the bag.

Damian Rolls advanced the runners with a sacrifice and Martin, hitting for Jared Sandberg , lined a 1-2 pitch past a diving Febles to the warning track in right-center field for a tying triple.

"Well, MacDougal, he throws 1,000 miles per hour and has a nasty curve," Martin said. "After two strikes, I really just wanted to put the ball in play and hit it up the middle."

"He fouled off a high fastball then laid off a good breaking ball down and out of the zone," Piniella said. "Then he got a breaking ball up and he hit it. That's a good, professional at-bat."

Lugo followed Martin's second triple of the season by sending MacDougal's next pitch into right field. The hit saddled the Royals with their first loss in 38 games this season when holding an opponent to three runs or fewer.

"Anytime you lose a game like that, of course, it bothers you," Kansas City manager Tony Pena said. "MacDougal threw the ball real well. It was a ground ball to the second baseman and he didn't make the play and that opened up the game right there."

"I felt I threw all right," MacDougal added. "They got a couple of hits and it turned out bad for me."

MacDougal's seventh blown save in 32 chances spoiled an outstanding outing by starter Darrell May , who allowed four hits and struck out six in six scoreless innings.

It also was the Royals' 22nd blown save of the season and their seventh loss in 60 games when leading after eight innings.

Chad Gaudin (1-0) tossed two scoreless frames for his first major league win. He entered after starter Rob Bell gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings.

Before MacDougal blew his first save since July 18, Jason Grimsley and Curtis Leskanic each tossed a hitless inning. Grimsley walked Lugo but fanned Carl Crawford to end the seventh. Leskanic recovered from a leadoff walk to Marlon Anderson and got Aubrey Huff to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Ken Harvey opened the scoring in the fourth with an RBI double and Berroa hit a run-scoring single that staked May to a 2-0 lead. But with one out and runners at the corner, Febles bounced into a double play.

The Royals wasted two chances to pad their lead. With runners at second and third, Harvey flied to right to end the fifth. In the sixth, Febles lined into a double play with two on.

May threw 103 pitches and cruised through five innings. With two on in the sixth, the lefthander got Hall to fly out and Lee to bounce into a double play.


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