<
>

Martinez singles with bases loaded

5/23/2004

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are finally
playing with confidence.

Tino Martinez's bases-loaded single in the 10th inning Sunday
gave the Devil Rays a 5-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians and
their first four-game winning streak of the season.

Rocco Baldelli hit a one-out double off David Riske (0-2). After
Aubrey Huff was intentionally walked and Jose Cruz Jr. walked to
load the bases, Martinez lined a single to right on a 1-2 pitch.

"When you win a few games in a row, your team builds confidence
and things take off," Martinez said. "You take the field with a
lot more confidence. We've taken the field the last two days
expecting to win."

The Indians have lost five straight for the second time this
season.

The Devil Rays' previous four-game winning streak came last July
29-Aug. 1.

"Success breeds confidence," manager Lou Piniella said. "I
know this, I'm going to enjoy my off day (Monday) a whole lot
better."

Tampa Bay second baseman Damian Rolls had the wind knocked out
of him in a scary collision with Cruz in the seventh.

Rolls was running full speed into right field while chasing a
short fly hit by Ronnie Belliard that Cruz caught. Rolls' sternum
and right jaw were bruised when he ran into Cruz and went down to
the ground.

"Felt like I was hit by a train," Rolls said. "I'm fine. I'm
going home to go to sleep."

Rolls stayed down for several minutes while being examined. He
got up and tried to persuade Piniella to let him stay in the game
before walking off the field under his power.

"He wanted to stay in there ... how about that," Piniella
said. "He said, 'I'm not getting enough at-bats.' I said, 'Well,
we'll get you some more at-bats next week."

Team trainers will monitor Rolls, who was replaced by Geoff
Blum. No tests are planned.

Cruz remained in the game, but afterward said his right side and
leg were sore.

"It was a borderline, in-between ball," Cruz said. "I started
calling it as soon as I knew I had it and then -- bam! I'm glad
nobody really got hurt."

Cleveland starter Cliff Lee did not get a decision and remains
5-0 this season. He gave up four runs and six hits in 7 2-3
innings.

Lee is just the third Indians pitcher in the last 30 years to
start a season 5-0. Dennis Martinez won his first nine decisions in
1995, and Greg Swindell started 6-0 in 1988.

Toby Hall homered and drove in two runs for the Devil Rays. He
has three RBI in his last 14 games.

Tampa Bay's Mark Hendrickson allowed four runs and eight hits in
seven innings. Travis Harper (1-0) went three scoreless innings for
the win.

Cleveland got a homer from Alex Escobar. It was his first since
Sept. 17.

"We missed opportunities, again," Indians manager Eric Wedge
said. "That was the difference for us."

Lou Merloni had a run-scoring single and Travis Hafner hit a
two-run double that put the Indians up 3-0 in the first.

The Devil Rays tied it in the bottom half. Huff had an RBI
single, Martinez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Hall
drove in a run with grounder.

The teams traded solo homers in the fourth. Escobar went deep in
the top half before Hall got the Devil Rays even at 4 in the bottom
of the inning.

"It's frustrating when the team scores runs and you should put
up a zero in the next inning," Lee said. "Twice I didn't do
that."

Blum preserved the 4-4 tie in the seventh with a strong
defensive play to take a two-out single from Victor Martinez. With
two runners on, Blum went behind second to field Martinez's
grounder and made a perfect throw to shortstop Rey Sanchez for a
forceout.

The play came just three batters after Blum replaced Rolls.

"The ball has a way of finding you in those situations," Blum
said.

Game notes
Indians LF Matt Lawton left after the top of the first with
a strained right hip. He did not rule out playing in the next
couple days. ... Hafner has 15 RBI in his last 13 games. ... Tampa
Bay's bullpen has thrown 22 straight scoreless innings.