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Updated: Sunday, August 10, 2003 8:24 PM EDT
Kansas City Royals
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
7 12 0
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
3 6 0
W Hernandez (7-4)
L Sosa (4-9)
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- After regaining first place, the Kansas City Royals took care of Jorge Sosa in the first inning.

Rookie Julius Matos capped a five-run first with a two-run single and added a solo home run in the fourth inning to lead the Royals to a 7-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays .

A four-game losing streak knocked Kansas City out of first place in the American League Central for the first time since June 30. But a 6-2 victory here on Saturday, coupled with a loss by the Chicago White Sox , put the Royals back on top by one-half game.

They settled matters early on Sunday, banging six hits off Sosa (4-9) in the first inning. Aaron Guiel led off with a single and raced to third on a single by Angel Berroa , who went to second on left fielder Carl Crawford 's throw to third. Raul Ibanez followed with a sacrifice fly.

"It was great to get off to that kind of start," Ibanez said.

Sosa then allowed three straight hits - a single by Mike Sweeney , an RBI single by Desi Relaford and a run-scoring double by Mike DiFelice . After intentionally walking Dee Brown , Sosa yielded a two-run single to Matos, giving the Royals a 5-0 lead.

"We were out of it in the first inning," said Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella . "I talked to Sosa many times about the first inning. You just can't give up runs and expect to win if you start that way. It's a problem and a concern."

Chad Gaudin relieved Sosa and retired Carlos Febles on a flyout and Guiel on a grounder to end the inning.

Matos, who is 6-for-12 with seven RBI against Tampa Bay this season, led off the fourth with his second home run of the season. Ibanez had a run-scoring single later in the inning off Gaudin to increase the lead to 7-0.

Runelvys Hernandez (7-4) pitched seven innings and allowed three runs and five hits to earn the win.

"I threw strikes, only had a couple of walks," said Hernandez, who walked two and struck out five. "The last two games I lost my control."

Aubrey Huff drove in all three of Tampa Bay's runs with a pair of doubles.

Devil Rays reliever Jesus Colome threw a pitch behind Guiel's back in the ninth inning. Guiel walked toward the mound, the benches emptied and both players were ejected.

"He (Colome) tried to hit somebody," said Royals manager Tony Pena . "I know Lou tried to teach those kids to play hard, but if you keep this up someone is going to get hurt. I won't forget about this one. There was no question about it (that they threw at him)."

Piniella disagreed with Pena's assessment.

"I think he's just talking a little bit in the heat of the moment," Piniella said. "Tony's probably trying to use that as a rallying point for his team. It's a good ploy, give him credit for that."

In Saturday's game, Tampa Bay's Victor Zambrano hit Mike Sweeney with a pitch in the top of the third inning. The Royals retaliated in the bottom of the inning when Jimmy Gobble plunked Marlon Anderson .

Kansas City played without center fielder Carlos Beltran , who was scratched from the lineup with a hyperextended left elbow. He is listed as day-to-day.

But Beltran's absence did not stop the Royals from knocking out Sosa in the first inning.

Gaudin replaced Sosa and retired eight straight batters until Matos hit his second homer of the season to lead off the fourth. Febles followed with a single and Guiel doubled. One out later, Ibanez singled home Febles to give the Royals a 7-0 lead.

Crawford and Huff doubled in the fourth and Huff doubled home two runs in the sixth.

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