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Beltran hits 100th career homer in win

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Jimmy Gobble is making quite an
impression.

The rookie allowed one run in his second major league start, and
Carlos Beltran homered and drove in three runs as the Kansas City
Royals snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Tampa Bay
Devil Rays 6-2 on Saturday night.

"What a great job," Royals manager Tony Pena said. "He has
only pitched two games, but the way he approaches each game and his
mound presence -- he's pitching like a veteran. He doesn't let
anything bother him."

Kansas City, which won for just the fourth time in 12 games,
moved one half-game ahead of the White Sox in the AL Central a
night after Chicago took the division lead for the first time since
May 25, 2002. The White Sox were defeated 7-2 by Oakland.

Gobble (2-0) gave up seven hits, including Damian Rolls' homer
in the seventh, and had three strikeouts and no walks in 6 1-3
innings.

"It's basically living a dream," Gobble said. "Just going out
and competing like that. You can't beat it."

The left-hander has allowed just one run in 12 1-3 innings in
the majors. He threw six scoreless innings last Sunday in the
Royals' 2-0 win over the Devil Rays.

"I'm glad we're not going to see him anymore this year," Tampa
Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "He certainly doesn't pitch like a
rookie out of Double-A. He's got a pretty good feel for pitching at
a young age."

Beltran hit his 100th career homer, a two-run shot off reliever
Lance Carter in the eighth. He also had a run-scoring single.

"I feel happy today ... we won," Beltran said. "We had lost
two to the Devil Rays. They're playing good ball right now."

Victor Zambrano (9-6) gave up four runs and seven hits over 5
2-3 innings for Tampa Bay, which is 13-10 since the All-Star break.
The right-hander struggled with his control: He hit a batter,
committed a balk, threw three wild pitches and walked six.

"Nothing's wrong, nothing's different," said Zambrano, who has
won seven of his past nine decisions. "All I can really say is
tomorrow is another day. I'll be ready for the next start."

The Royals took advantage of two wild pitches by Zambrano in the
second to take a 2-0 lead.

Raul Ibanez singled and Joe Randa walked. Both advanced on a
wild pitch and Ibanez later scored on another wild pitch. A
sacrifice fly by Brent Mayne drove in Randa to make it 2-0.

Desi Relaford made it 3-0 with an RBI single in the third.

Zambrano was able to keep the Devil Rays within three runs by
holding the Royals to 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position
through five innings. Kansas City stranded seven runners over the
stretch, and finished 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position
against Zambrano.

An RBI single by Beltran in the sixth extended the Royals' lead
to 4-0.

Beltran also threw out Rocco Baldelli at the plate on Rolls'
single in the fourth. His 18th homer -- a two-run shot -- put the
Royals up 6-1 in the eighth.

The homer was the fifth allowed by Carter, Tampa Bay's All-Star
representative, in his last 15 2-3 innings. The right-hander has
given up 18 runs and 22 hits during the stretch.

"We're trying to get him sharp," Piniella said. "We're trying
to get him some work when the game's not on the line and where he
can make some pitches. We're trying to get him back on track."

Both benches were warned when Gobble hit Marlon Anderson with a
pitch in the third. Zambrano, who has hit an AL-leading 15 batters,
hit Mike Sweeney with a pitch in the top of the inning.

Anderson's RBI single off Mike MacDougal in the ninth made it
6-2.

The Royals' closer has been touched for four runs over 1 1-3
innings in last two outings.

Game notes
Devil Rays OF Carl Crawford was scratched after mildly
spraining his right ankle while running after a fly ball in batting
practice. X-rays were negative and Crawford is day to day. ...
Royals 1B Ken Harvey left in the second after straining his left
pectoral muscle while swinging a bat. He is day to day. ...
Piniella managed his 2,569th game, tying him for 23rd place on the
career list with former Yankees manager Miller Huggins.