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Updated: Sunday, September 7, 2003 6:01 PM EDT
MLB RECAP
Oakland Athletics
Team Page | Schedule | Injuries
Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
2 9 2
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
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Stats: Batting | Pitching
R H E
11 9 0
W Zambrano (10-8)
L Zito (11-12)
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TAMPA BAY 11, OAKLAND 2
 

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- Barry Zito 's struggles this season have been a mystery. The reigning Cy Young Award winner's two starts against the last-place Tampa Bay Devil Rays clearly illustrate that.

Rocco Baldelli drove in three runs and Victor Zambrano tossed a nine-hitter for his first career complete game as the Devil Rays cruised to an 11-2 romp over the Oakland Athletics .

Zito (11-12) shut down the Devil Rays for three innings but ran into control problems in the fourth. He won his first four career starts against Tampa Bay but was pounded for seven runs and 15 hits over 5 1/3 innings in a 9-3 loss on July 8.

"His first three innings looked perfect, almost like he was going to pitch a perfect game, then he started walking people and it turned into a mess," Athletics manager Ken Macha . "I know he's not trying to walk people, but he's had a lot of walks this year. You aren't going to pitch a lot of good games when you do that."

The lefthander also lasted 5 1/3 innings in this one, allowing seven runs and six hits with three walks and three strikeouts as his ERA climbed from 3.20 to 3.42. Last year, Zito was 23-5 with a 2.75 ERA. He has issued 79 walks in 205 1/3 innings after walking 78 in 229 1/3 innings in 2002.

Zambrano (10-8) gave up two runs and recorded a career-high eight strikeouts without a walk as the Devil Rays took two of three games from the Athletics after doing the same against Seattle.

"I tried to finish every hitter from the first inning," Zambrano said. "I feel very good. I appreciate (manager Lou) Piniella and thank him for letting me finish and give me an opportunity to get me my first complete game."

Eric Chavez had an RBI double in the fourth and Billy McMillon delivered a run-scoring single in the eighth for Oakland, which remained two games in front of second-place Seattle in the American League Western Division.

"We should be winning games that we're not," Zito said. "The same for Seattle. We should be 6-4 against teams like the Devil Rays and Baltimore, not 4-6. Maybe it's our destiny to make the playoffs, we still have a good record."

"It was good to score runs off Oakland the last couple of days," Piniella said. "It goes to show you good pitchers walk guys and give up runs. We're trying to win as many games as possible, and there's a little bit of pride there, too. We'd like to tell these teams to do their business elsewhere."

Zito retired the first 11 batters before walking Aubrey Huff and former teammate Adam Piatt . Travis Lee followed with an RBI double to forge a 1-1 tie before Damian Rolls popped out.

The bottom three hitters in Tampa Bay's lineup reached base to start the fifth without getting a ball out of the infield. Toby Hall led off with a walk and Marlon Anderson bunted for a single before Julio Lugo was hit by a pitch.

Zito retired Carl Crawford , but Baldelli blooped a single to right to plate Hall and Anderson for a 3-1 lead. Huff lifted a sacrifice fly, but Piatt flied out to end the inning.

Rolls and Hall had one-out singles in the sixth before Anderson chased Zito with a run-scoring double that made it 5-1.

Knuckleballer Steve Sparks came in and walked Lugo before Crawford dropped a two-run double into center for a 7-1 advantage. Lugo came home when Baldelli grounded into a forceout.

Hall had an RBI double in the seventh and Tampa Bay got its final two runs when Lugo grounded into a forceout and second baseman Mark Ellis threw wildly trying to turn a double play.


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