ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The surging Tampa Bay Devil Rays are
in the midst of their best stretch ever.
Tampa Bay is 15-6 since May 20, its best record over a 21-game
"Now we're playing like I felt we were capable of playing,"
Martinez said. "It's been a lot of fun."
Hall gave the Devil Rays an 8-7 lead with a two-run shot off Tim
Harikkala (1-1), and Martinez followed with his 310th career homer.
John Halama (2-1) earned the win with three scoreless innings of
relief for the Devil Rays, who equaled their best record after 59
games at 25-34.
"The hitters deserve all the credit today," Halama said.
After Halama's latest strong outing that lowered his ERA to 2.76
over 14 relief appearances, he will join the rotation and start
next weekend at Arizona.
"He deserves the opportunity," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella
said. "I think he's earned it."
Matt Holliday hit his first career grand slam during Colorado's
six-run sixth inning that put the Rockies up 7-5. Colorado has lost
seven straight, and 19 of 23.
"We showed up huge in the sixth inning after rumbling and
stumbling and bumbling out there a little bit," Colorado manager
Clint Hurdle said. "We can't get away with anything right now. You
really can't get away with a whole lot at this level anyway unless
you're a very talented team."
Todd Helton went 2-for-3, including a run-scoring single in the
first, for Colorado. He has nine hits in 13 at-bats with eight RBI
over the past three games.
Helton said he was fine after getting hit just above the left
wrist by a pitch from Halama in the ninth. He'll be evaluated
"If we don't get better, we're going to break some kind of
record," Helton said. "When it boils down, it's no fun and it's
not a good thing to be going through."
Tampa Bay had just two baserunners -- both walks -- through four
innings, but took a 5-1 lead with a five-run fifth inning.
Hall singled off Shawn Estes, who then hit two of next three
batters to load the bases with one out. Rey Sanchez, who hit an
inside-the-park walkoff homer Friday night, lined a single to right
to drive in a run, and another run scored when right fielder Jeromy
Burnitz couldn't field the ball cleanly for an error.
Lugo hit a two-run single, and Aubrey Huff had a run-scoring
single to put the Devil Rays up 5-1.
It took Tampa Bay starter Rob Bell just four batters into the
sixth to blow the four-run lead.
The Rockies loaded the bases with no outs before Holliday hit
his ninth homer to tie it at 5 and end Bell's night. Colorado added
two more runs on Choo Freeman's RBI grounder and Aaron Miles'
run-scoring single off Travis Harper.
"It's frustrating," Bell said. "It's tough to put your team
in a situation like that."
Estes was lifted after loading the bases -- on two walks and a
single -- in the sixth with no outs. Harikkala came in and allowed
one runner to score -- on Robert Fick's sacrifice fly -- that got
Tampa Bay within 7-6.
Estes allowed six runs, five hits, four walks and hit two
batters in five-plus innings.
Bell gave up five runs and seven hits over five-plus innings.
Piniella won his 1,407th game, moving past Jimmy Dykes into
22nd place all-time. ... Martinez tied Jay Buhner for 92nd on the
career home runs list. ... Estes also had control problems when
asking for a new baseball in the fifth. During the exchange, he
threw the ball to the backstop. ... Devil Rays OF Rocco Baldelli
was out of the line up with a sprained ligament in his left thumb,
but came in to play center field in the ninth. ... Freeman made a
leaping grab into the center-field wall on Carl Crawford's drive in
the third. ... Sanchez's walk-off inside the park homer Friday was
the first in interleague play. It was also the first by an AL
player since Minnesota's Tim Teufel on June 24, 1984.