- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Devil Rays aren't playing like the worst team in the majors anymore.

Greg Vaughn knocked in the go-ahead run with his first extra-base hit in 14 games, and Chris Gomez hit a three-run homer as the Devil Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-4 last night.

"I think we're playing well," Tampa Bay manager Hal McRae said. "We have some, but we don't have the kind of momentum we need. We've made a lot of progress, but we just haven't won enough. We've done a lot of positive things, but you're measured by wins and losses."

Tampa Bay (45-81) has won seven of 11 and is 15-14 since July 21. The Devil Rays have five straight victories at home.

Vaughn broke a 4-4 tie with an RBI double in the sixth inning. Gomez made it 8-4 with his three-run homer in the seventh.

Gomez has six homers in 77 at-bats since joining Tampa Bay last month. He had one homer in his previous 491 and has 20 RBI in 23 games with the Devil Rays.

"I'm getting that feeling back where I'm trying to be more aggressive," Gomez said. "I've gotten into a little groove, and I've been able to maintain it."

The latest stop on Cal Ripken's farewell tour drew just 13,247 fans to Tropicana Field. The Devil Rays were averaging 16,097 at home.

Ripken went 1-for-4 with a single in the eighth, and he has a hit in 44 of 49 games.

Tony Batista and Larry Bigbie homered for Baltimore, which lost for just the fifth time in 13 games.

Travis Phelps (2-1) went 1-1/3 scoreless innings for the win. Victor Zambrano allowed one hit the last two innings to finish it.

Baltimore starter Jose Mercedes (7-14), who leads the AL in losses, gave up five runs and 10 hits in 5-2/3 innings.

"I don't think it makes any difference to me because what is done is done," Mercedes said. "I can't go back and do anything about it. It's over. I pay attention sometimes [to the record], but at the same time I've got to move forward. I can't let that stuff bother me."

The final six Tampa Bay runs scored on two-out hits.

"I really hate two-out runs," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "Those are tough runs to give up. We should have made the pitch when we had to."

Ben Grieve walked with the bases loaded, and another run scored when Toby Hall hit into a double play as the Devil Rays took a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Baltimore got one run back in the third on David Segui's RBI double.

Batista put Baltimore ahead 3-2 with a two-run homer in the fourth. The Devil Rays tied it in their half of the inning on an RBI single by Brent Abernathy.

Bigbie made it 4-3 with a solo homer to open the fifth. Again, Tampa Bay responded in its next at-bat, getting a game-tying homer by Randy Winn.

Winn's homer was his sixth in 303 at-bats this season. He had just four in 800 at-bats entering the season.

The Orioles loaded the bases in the seventh, but reliever Doug Creek induced an inning-ending double play from Chris Richard.

Devil Rays starter Paul Wilson allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings.

"Our offense was great today," Wilson said. "They took advantage of some opportunities and got some big hits."

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