ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays won, so
manager Lou Piniella could smile about the huge blunder that could
have cost his young team.
Al Martin singled over a drawn-in outfield with one out in the
bottom of the ninth inning and the Devil Rays overcame a throwing
error on an appeal play to hand the New York Yankees their first loss of the season, 6-5 Saturday night. "Boy, we're green in areas and it shows, but what we have to do
here is keep teaching and keep teaching and keep preaching,''
Piniella said. The Yankees scored three times and took a 5-3 lead in a sixth
inning that featured the bizarre play that Piniella hardly found
amusing at the time. Bernie Williams tripled home a run and Hideki Matsui and Bubba
Trammell followed with RBI singles, the latter driving in Matsui,
who slid across the plate. Before play resumed, Devil Rays starter
Joe Kennedy stepped off the rubber to appeal whether Matsui touched
home. But Kennedy lobbed the ball over the head of catcher Toby Hall,
allowing runners on first and second to advance a base. The pitcher
was charged with Tampa Bay's second error of the inning, which
ended when the next batter, Erick Almonte, grounded out. Kennedy was lifted right after the gaffe. "I've got to talk to him about that lob over the catcher,''
Piniella said, chuckling. "We felt the baserunner had not touched home plate so we were
going to appeal it. Not only did we not get the call, we advanced
two baserunners.'' The Devil Rays scored twice in the eighth to tie it, then loaded
the bases in the ninth when Carl Crawford singled, Rocco Baldelli
doubled and Aubrey Huff drew an intentional walk from Antonio Osuna
(0-1). Martin lined Osuna's first pitch over the head of right fielder
Raul Mondesi, ending the Devil Rays' five-game losing streak and
denying the Yankees what would have been a club-record fifth
straight win on the road to start a season. "I think we spoiled everybody, including ourselves. We're not
going to win every game,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
"There's going to be some games that are going to hurt like this
one because you had a lead.'' Yankees starter Jeff Weaver departed with a 5-3 lead after seven
innings. The Devil Rays scored twice off Chris Hammond to make it
5-all, ending the reliever's streak of 34 consecutive appearances
without giving up an earned run. Ben Grieve's sacrifice fly trimmed the Yankees' lead to 5-4 and
Marlon Anderson tied it with his second RBI single of the night. Anderson also drove in a run with an infield hit in the first,
when the Yankees fell behind for the first time this season. "It's not a good feeling right now,'' Hammond said. "I'm just
looking forward to getting out there tomorrow and redeeming
myself.'' The Yankees led in all but one inning in their first four games,
hitting 12 homers and outscoring the Blue Jays and Devil Rays
39-14. They trailed 2-1 after the first inning this time, but pulled
even in the fifth when Mondesi doubled and scored on Almonte's
single. Almonte, subbing for the injured Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter,
went 2-for-4. Kennedy allowed five runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. Lance
Carter (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings in relief for the win. "The way we were going the last couple of days, it's good to
get a win against anybody,'' Martin said. "But it doesn't hurt to
get a win against the best team in baseball.''
The Yankees had three triples in a game for the first time
since July 14, 1998, at Cleveland. ... Hammond hadn't allowed an
earned run since last June 30 at Boston. ... Todd Zeile started at
third base for the Yankees in place of Robin Ventura. Torre said
Ventura, who homered in Friday night's 12-2 victory, had some
stiffness in his back after playing on the Tropicana Field turf.
... Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Phil Rizzuto will
throw out the ceremonial first pitches for the Yankees' home opener
on Monday against the Minnesota Twins.