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Updated: Tuesday, July 20, 2004 12:14 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
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TAMPA BAY 9, NY YANKEES 7
 

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- Playing in a surprisingly loud Tropicana Field, a lack of communication between Hideki Matsui and Kenny Lofton cost the New York Yankees .

Misplaying a sixth-inning fly ball by pinch hitter Robert Fick , the outfielders allowed a pair of runs to score in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays ' 9-7 victory over the Yankees.

With Tampa Bay leading, 6-5, in front of 41,755 fans, only the second sellout this season, Fick hit a drive to left-center field with runners on second and third and two out. Matsui and center fielder Lofton both called for the catch, then both backed off, allowing the ball to fall.

"Kenny is the quarterback in this thing as the center fielder," New York manager Joe Torre said. "Mat (Matsui) tried to get out of the way and it appeared Kenny didn't hear him until later and shyed away from the ball. Indoors makes it louder, but you still have to get it done."

Lofton refused to talk to the media after the game.

"I called for the ball knowing I had a good chance to catch it," Matsui said through an interpreter. "Then I saw Kenny out of the corner of my eye. The center fielder has priority. I heard Kenny and that's why I stopped. I'm not really surprised, those plays happen sometimes. I might have been in his way."

Pinch hitter Ruben Sierra hit a two-run homer in the top of the eighth to bring the Yankees within 8-7, but Carl Crawford , who extended his hitting streak to 10 games, recorded his major league-leading 14th triple with a man on in the bottom half.

Reliever Lance Carter (3-2) allowed one hit and struck out two in 1 2/3 innings for the win and Danys Baez retired all four batters he faced to collect his 19th save in 21 chances.

"Baez has done a nice job," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "He competes awfully well and he has the stuff to go along with it. That was a pretty tall order (to face the heart of the Yankees lineup) and our guy was up to the task."

Aubrey Huff had two of Tampa Bay's club-record eight doubles, including one that scored two during a five-run first off New York starter Alex Graman .

Julio Lugo and Geoff Blum each had two hits and scored two runs for the Devil Rays , who snapped a four-game losing streak against the Yankees and beat New York for just the second time in 10 meetings.

"It was an exciting ballgame," Piniella said. "Big crowd and lots of action. This place was loud. Dome stadiums were made to be filled. The secret is to sell it out every night."

New York got RBI singles from Matsui and Enrique Wilson in the fourth. Jorge Posada 's two-run double in the fifth tied it at 5-5.

Blum broke the tie with an RBI single in the sixth, two batters before Fick's drive.

"That was lucky, that ball should have been caught," Fick said. "The ball bounced our way tonight. It was nice because they had built momentum and it's hard to stop them when they get any type of momentum."

Tanyon Sturtze (3-2) absorbed the loss, giving up two runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings in relief of Graman, who retired just one batter, allowing five runs and five hits.

"He just gets too pumped up," Torre said. "His stuff is major league, he just has to learn to control his emotions."

"I have to work through it," said Graman, whose ERA increased to 19.80. "I got a little too wound up and when that happens, the ball flattens out."

Tampa Bay starter Rob Bell , staked to a 5-0 first-inning lead, left after 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs and six hits.

"I threw the ball for the most part like I wanted to," Bell said. "I felt like I kept the ball on the ground most of the night. We played good defense and got some good pitching late. We just kept pressing them all night."


© 2005 STATS, Inc
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