Series: Game 2 of 3

Texas leads 2-0 (as of 5/12)

Game 1: Tuesday, May 11
Tampa Bay4
Game 2: Wednesday, May 12
Tampa Bay8
Game 3: Thursday, May 13
Tampa Bay6

Rangers 9

(21-12, 8-6 away)

Devil Rays 8

(9-23, 6-9 home)

    7:15 PM ET, May 12, 2004

    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida 

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    TEX 013200012 9 11 1
    TB 203000003 8 9 0

    W: C. Park (2-3)

    L: J. Halama (0-1)

    S: F. Cordero (12)

    Texas now 4-1 vs. Tampa Bay

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Devil Rays came up just short in their bid to end a lengthy slide.

    Hank Blalock hit his third homer in two games, and the Texas Rangers hung on to beat Tampa Bay 9-8 Wednesday night and send the Devil Rays to their seventh straight loss.

    Texas, which has won 13 of 17, took a 9-5 lead on Alfonso Soriano's two-run double in the ninth, but in the bottom half Francisco Cordero allowed an RBI single to Rocco Baldelli and a two-run double to Aubrey Huff, who tied a career high with five RBI.

    "It seems like if we can get one win, hopefully we can start rolling from there," Huff said. "It seems like we've been in such a rut that maybe one win will set us off."

    Huff's drive hit high off the wall in deep right-center, coming within a few feet of being a game-tying homer.

    "That might have put us over the hump," Tampa Bay second baseman Geoff Blum said. "It's just the nature of the beast right now."

    With runners at first and second, Cordero then struck out Julio Lugo on three pitches for his 12th save in as many chances.

    Soriano, Kevin Mench and Brad Fullmer also homered for Texas, which has 14 homers in five games against Tampa Bay and has gone 4-1 against the Devil Rays.

    "There's been a lot of home runs so far in these games, and that's been the difference in the series," Blalock said.

    Chan Ho Park (2-3) gave up five runs and seven hits in seven innings for the win.

    "This is a guy with some pedigree," Texas manager Buck Showalter said. "Tonight was a good example of a guy battling his way through it and not pulling the dirt in around him."

    Tino Martinez and Huff homered for the Devil Rays, who have lost 14 of 16. The seven-game slide equals Tampa Bay's longest (last June 5-12) since Lou Piniella became manager at the start of the 2003 season.

    "The team battled," Piniella said. "Saw some good things out there and some things we have to straighten out."

    John Halama (0-1) gave up three runs and three hits in 5 1-3 innings.

    Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first, but David Dellucci hit a sacrifice fly in the second and Texas took a 4-2 lead in the third when Blalock had a two-run homer and Soriano followed with a solo shot.

    Huff's three-run homer in the bottom half put Tampa Bay ahead 5-4, but Mench regained the lead for Texas with a two-run homer in the fourth.

    Fullmer, who also had two doubles, made it 7-5 with a homer in the eighth.

    Tampa Bay's Jeremi Gonzalez pitched himself out of the rotation and into the bullpen after allowing four runs and five hits in three innings. He has gone 14 starts -- including 10 losses -- without a victory since his last win, Aug. 19 at Baltimore.

    Piniella said the Devil Rays will call up a pitcher from Triple-A Durham to replace Gonzalez in the rotation. Candidates include Rob Bell, who is 5-0 with a 1.67 ERA in six starts.

    Game notes

    Rangers RHP Doug Brocail had an appendectomy Wednesday night and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Texas called up RHP Frank Francisco from Double-A Frisco to replace Brocail. ... The Devil Rays have five homers in 12 2-3 innings off Park over two starts this season. They have 28 overall. ... Soriano's homer was his 11th in 133 at-bats at Tampa Bay and went an estimated 442 feet. ... Tampa Bay designated hitters started the game hitting a combined .162, just six points higher than NL pitchers. Midre Cummings went 0-for-4 as the DH Wednesday. ... Tampa Bay LF Carl Crawford stole two bases in the third. He has 17 this year and 81 overall, breaking Randy Winn's team record of 80.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press