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Howell haunts Royals as Devil Rays win

Jun 3, 2007 - 9:50 PM ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- J.P. Howell came back to haunt his former team.

Howell pitched eight brilliant innings in his season debut as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays posted a 5-1 triumph over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon.

It was just the fifth victory in the last 14 contests for Tampa Bay, which lost the first two games of this four-game series.

The 24-year-old Howell was a supplemental first-round draft selection of the Royals in 2004 but struggled in a brief stint with Kansas City the following year, going 3-5 with a 6.19 ERA in 15 starts.

Howell (1-0) was dealt to Tampa Bay on June 20, 2006 and made eight starts with the Devil Rays last season, going 1-3 with a 5.10 ERA. But the lefthander was outstanding Sunday, yielding one run and five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.

"I'll take this for sure," said Howell, who was recalled from Class AAA Durham on Saturday. "I had a lot of adrenalin facing (the Royals). When you're in Triple-A, you're always waiting for the call. But I had fun - I learned a lot in those two months."

"Sometimes when you pitch against a former team, it can be emotional," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "You know he feels strongly about them, but he was in command all night. When someone makes a mistake, he's the first to turn around and pick that player up."

After retiring nine of the first 11 batters he faced, Howell ran into trouble in the fourth inning, surrendering a pair of hits and allowing a runner to reach on an error to load the bases with one out. But he struck out Ryan Shealy and retired Tony Pena Jr. on a flyout to escape the inning unscathed.

Kansas City finally got on the scoreboard against Howell in the fifth, when Jason LaRue led off the frame with a homer to make it 2-1. But after allowing a single to Esteban German, Howell retired the next three batters to preserve Tampa Bay's one-run lead.

Howell wanted to hang around to pitch the ninth, but Maddon opted to go with closer Al Reyes, who logged a scoreless frame to close out the contest.

"It was such a wonderful first outing back, and I didn't want anything to mess that up," Maddon said. "He wanted the (complete game), but I just felt it was the first thing to do. If he had a shutout, I may have left him in there."

"For sure (I wanted to stay in), but it was a smart move for me to come out," Howell said. "You have think about down the road for my next start."

The Devil Rays added two important insurance runs in the sixth, when Dioner Navarro roped an RBI triple and scored on Brendan Harris' run-scoring hit. Carlos Pena led off the eighth with a solo homer to make it 5-1.

Pena and B.J. Upton both had two hits while Delmon Young blasted his seventh homer of the season for the Devil Rays, who improved to 3-3 on their seven-game homestand.

Royals starter Scott Elarton (1-2) was spotty in his fifth outing of the campaign, allowing four runs and six hits in 5 2/3 frames. The righthander recorded one walk and no strikeouts to 0-6 lifetime against the Devil Rays.

"These guys always give me trouble," Elarton said. "I feel like I should match up well with them. It's always been a challenge for me here. I had two disappointing pitches - the home run to Young and the triple to Navarro."

Kansas City managed a total of just five hits and lost for just the third time in their last 11 road games.

"The main thing was Howell didn't walk anybody," Kansas City manager Buddy Bell said. "It was a pretty good performance, I would say."








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

    BATTERIES: KAN - SCOTT ELARTON, JOEL PERALTA (6TH), RYAN BRAUN (7TH) AND JASON
    LARUE
    TAM - J.P. HOWELL, AL REYES (9TH) AND DIONER NAVARRO

    HOME RUNS: KAN - JASON LARUE (2) OF

    Jun 3 4:06 PM


  • AL
    AT TAMPA BAY - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY CARLOS PENA (11) TO CENTER WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 8TH OFF RYAN BRAUN.
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 1, TAMPA BAY 5
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: T WIGGINTON (.243, 0-FOR-3)

    Royals vs. RaysJun 3 3:54 PM


  • AL
    AT TAMPA BAY - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY BRENDAN HARRIS SCORED DIONER NAVARRO.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, B HARRIS ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 1
    TAMPA BAY 4 BOTTOM, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: E DUKES (.213, 0-FOR-3)

    Royals vs. RaysJun 3 3:29 PM


  • AL
    AT TAMPA BAY - SCORING UPDATE
    TRIPLE BY DIONER NAVARRO SCORED CARLOS PENA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, D NAVARRO ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 1
    TAMPA BAY 3 BOTTOM, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: B HARRIS (.299, 0-FOR-2)

    Royals vs. RaysJun 3 3:26 PM


  • AL
    AT TAMPA BAY - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY JASON LARUE (2) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
    5TH OFF J.P. HOWELL.
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 1, TAMPA BAY 2
    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: E GERMAN (.269, 0-FOR-2)

    Royals vs. RaysJun 3 2:49 PM


  • AL
    AT TAMPA BAY - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY DELMON YOUNG (7) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN THE
    4TH OFF SCOTT ELARTON.
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 0, TAMPA BAY 2
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: D NAVARRO (.182, 0-FOR-0, BB)

    Royals vs. RaysJun 3 2:45 PM


  • AL
    AT TAMPA BAY - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY CARL CRAWFORD SCORED B.J. UPTON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C CRAWFORD ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: KANSAS CITY 0
    TAMPA BAY 1 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: G NORTON (.190, 0-FOR-1)

    Royals vs. RaysJun 3 2:24 PM