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Power bats lift Devil Rays over A's

Apr 30, 2007 - 12:48 AM OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays' young bats continued their power surge.

The Devil Rays pounded out three homers and Scott Kazmir pitched seven solid innings en route to a 5-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

Kazmir (2-1) overcame a rough opening frame to pick up the win, yielding two runs and six hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out one, retiring the last seven batters in he faced.

"I just tried to find my way through the game," Kazmir said. "Early I tried to ease my way into it and got into some trouble, but as the game went on everything fell into place. I felt like my fastball was hitting both sides of the plate, and I was able to throw my change a lot more, which was effective."

B.J. Upton hit a three-run homer to push his team-leading RBI total to 20. He added a single and stole a pair of bases.

"We knew it was going to be a good game today," Upton said. "We definitely came out ready to play. After yesterday, we really wanted to come and win today. Scott kept us in it all day, and we got the win."

The Athletics opened the scoring in the first as Kazmir struggled early with his command. Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the inning for an early 2-0 lead.

Upton continued his hot start in the top of the fourth, clubbing a three-run homer to put the Devil Rays on top. Carl Crawford walked to begin the inning and Ty Wigginton singled. Crawford moved to third on Delmon Young's foulout to right field, setting up Upton.

Tampa Bay's second baseman has been a pleasant surprise thus far, especially in the clutch. Upton leads the team with a .365 average and paces the American League with a .542 mark (13-for-24) with runners in scoring position.

After beginning the season as the club's No. 9 hitter, the 22-year-old has moved up to sixth to take advantage of his RBI potential.

"B.J., God bless him, just continues to stay hot in crucial moments," Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I moved him up to six based on our lineup, and who was playing today, and he took advantage of it again. He's been incredible. He's been really impressive with runners in scoring position."

The Devil Rays increased their lead in the top of the fifth with another pair of homers. Rocco Baldelli led off with a blast to deep left-center field and rookie Elijah Dukes followed with a shot into the left-center field stands.

"It's always nice to be swinging the bats well like we are now," Baldelli said. "If you look up and down our lineup, we have a bunch of guys who are capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark. We just have to keep riding it and hit as many out as we can."

It was Dukes' third homer of the season - his first since April 5 - and gave Tampa Bay 31 homers on the season, one more than the New York Yankees and Texas for the most in the AL.

"We weren't really down by that much," Dukes said. "Sometimes teams jump out like they did today, but we were able to get it back early instead of late, which would have made it more tough. We got it going early and stuck it out."

Kazmir became just the second pitcher in franchise history to own more than one win here. The 23-year-old lefthander settled down after the first, throwing just 30 pitches over next three frames before running into trouble in the fifth.

"I threw two balls early on that I wish I had back," Kazmir said. "I was trying to get ahead of hitters, but wasn't throwing the ball with too much authority. I just had to go back to my game and throw pitches with authority after that."

Kazmir walked Dan Johnson and, after a pair of quick outs, surrendered another walk to Marco Scutaro. Shannon Stewart's single loaded the bases, leaving Ellis with an opportunity to get the A's back into the game. After an eight-pitch at-bat, Kazmir got Ellis to pop out, ending a 33-pitch inning without allowing a run.

"He just did not seem comfortable at any point," Maddon said. "But I really like the way he battled through the non-comfort. At no point did (I) think he ever really got into a groove tonight, but to his credit, he battled through it."

Two relievers bridged the gap to closer Al Reyes, who pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save in nine opportunities. He broke Roberto Hernandez's club record for saves in April, set in 1999.

"It feel good about the way things have been going so far," Reyes said. "Coming back from 'Tommy John' (surgery) last year, and not having pitched that much, I feel very happy about the way this year is going."

McAfee Coliseum has traditionally been a tough place for the Devil Rays. Sunday's win gave Tampa Bay just its second series win here and improved its overall record to 21-60 at Oakland.

A's 23-year-old rookie starter Dallas Braden (1-1) surrendered five runs in 4 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out five. He became the first Oakland starter this season to yield more than four earned runs in an outing.

"Three walks, is despicable, disgusting," Braden said. "Fastball command was probably the biggest thing for me today. No matter what other pitch is working, if you can't get ahead with that first pitch fastball, you're going to be in trouble."








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    TAMPA BAY 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 5 8 0
    OAKLAND 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 9 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: TAM - SCOTT KAZMIR, SHAWN CAMP (8TH), BRIAN STOKES (8TH), AL REYES
    (9TH) AND JOSH PAUL
    OAK - DALLAS BRADEN, KIKO CALERO (5TH), JAY WITASICK
    (7TH), JUSTIN DUCHSCHER

    Apr 29 6:55 PM


  • AL
    AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MIKE PIAZZA SCORED MARCO SCUTARO.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M PIAZZA ON FIRST, S STEWART ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 5
    OAKLAND 3 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: B CROSBY (.218, 0-FOR-3)

    Rays vs. AthleticsApr 29 6:39 PM


  • AL
    AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY ELIJAH DUKES (3) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 0 OUT
    IN THE 5TH OFF DALLAS BRADEN.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 5, OAKLAND 2
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: C CRAWFORD (.276, 0-FOR-0, 2 BB)

    Rays vs. AthleticsApr 29 5:13 PM


  • AL
    AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY ROCCO BALDELLI (4) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 0
    OUT IN THE 5TH OFF DALLAS BRADEN.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 4, OAKLAND 2
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: E DUKES (.233, 0-FOR-2)

    Rays vs. AthleticsApr 29 5:12 PM


  • AL
    AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY B.J. UPTON (5) TO CENTER WITH 1 OUT
    IN THE 4TH OFF DALLAS BRADEN SCORED CARL CRAWFORD AND TY WIGGINTON.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 3, OAKLAND 2
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: J CANTU (.250, 0-FOR-1)

    Rays vs. AthleticsApr 29 4:57 PM


  • AL
    AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY ERIC CHAVEZ (3) TO CENTER WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 1ST OFF SCOTT KAZMIR.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 0, OAKLAND 2
    DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: M PIAZZA (.264, 1 HR, 7 RBI)

    Rays vs. AthleticsApr 29 4:22 PM


  • AL
    AT OAKLAND - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY MARK ELLIS (2) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN THE
    1ST OFF SCOTT KAZMIR.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 0, OAKLAND 1
    DUE UP FOR OAKLAND: E CHAVEZ (.271, 2 HR, 13 RBI)

    Rays vs. AthleticsApr 29 4:20 PM