Series: Game 2 of 3

Tampa Bay leads 2-0 (as of 6/16)

Game 1: Tuesday, June 15
Tampa Bay5Final
San Diego2
Game 2: Wednesday, June 16
Tampa Bay9Final
San Diego6
Game 3: Thursday, June 17
Tampa Bay4Final
San Diego1

Devil Rays 9

(28-34, 9-19 away)

Padres 6

(33-31, 16-14 home)

    10:05 PM ET, June 16, 2004

    Petco Park, San Diego, California 

    123456789 R H E
    TB 201000411 9 15 1
    SD 121000020 6 10 1

    W: V. Zambrano (7-4)

    L: S. Linebrink (2-1)

    S: D. Baez (12)

    Crawford 4-for-five for Devil Rays

    SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Take a look at the Tampa Bay Devil Rays now.

    The worst team in the majors less than a month ago, the Devil Rays set a franchise record with their seventh straight win, beating the San Diego Padres 9-6 Wednesday night behind leadoff batter Carl Crawford, who went 4-for-5 with three runs and two RBI.

    Jose Cruz Jr. hit a two-run, two-out homer to cap a four-run rally in the seventh inning for the Devil Rays, who have the longest current winning streak in the majors.

    "It's more fun than it was maybe a month ago or so," Cruz said. "We're just going to keep it going. We're a bunch of happy-go-lucky guys anyway. Everybody's chipping in."

    The good news didn't stop there. Coupled with Baltimore's loss at Los Angeles, the Devil Rays took sole possession of third place in the AL East for the first time since May 24, 1999.

    Cruz wasn't aware of the big move in the standings.

    "Noooo," he said in disbelief.

    Turning to Tino Martinez in the clubhouse, he said: "Tino, we're in third place, dude!"

    Martinez, who won four World Series titles with the New York Yankees, replied: "That's not our goal."

    In the big picture, the Devil Rays still have a ways to go -- they're eight games behind second-place Boston, which in turn is 5{ behind the Yankees.

    Manager Lou Piniella cautioned before the game that no one should make too big a deal of the winning streak. But it really is something, considering both the Devil Rays' miserable seven-year history and that they had bottomed out on May 19 with a 10-28 record, the worst in the majors.

    Piniella remained low-key after the record win.

    "Let's just come out here tomorrow and play another good ballgame and see what happens," Piniella said.

    The Devil Rays have gone 18-6 since May 20. During that stretch, they've had 12 come-from-behind wins, including this one.

    "We were struggling so bad early," Crawford said. "We said we hoped we could get it going because we don't have a bad team."

    Until Wednesday night, Tampa Bay had won six straight games just four times in its history.

    San Diego took a 4-3 lead in the third on Phil Nevin's RBI infield single, a lead that held for three innings before the Devil Rays rallied in the seventh to go ahead 7-4.

    Julio Lugo started the rally with a double to left and took third on Rey Sanchez's infield single. With one out, Fred McGriff hit a chopper in front of the plate for an infield single and Lugo came racing in to score the tying run. Reliever Scott Linebrink (2-1) tried to flip the ball to catcher Miguel Ojeda with his glove, but the throw was wide.

    Crawford hit an RBI single, to right, advancing McGriff to second, where he was replaced by pinch-runner Gaudin. Gaudin was thrown out trying to steal third for the second out, but Cruz homered off the top of the center-field fence on a 2-2 pitch, his ninth.

    "Those guys were just putting their bats on the ball and hitting it just in the right spot," Linebrink said. "Nothing I would take back except the buzzard luck."

    Tampa Bay made it 8-4 on Sanchez's single in the eighth before the Padres scored two runs in their half, including Miguel Ojeda's solo homer.

    Crawford's ninth-inning triple, his second of the game, pushed Tampa Bay's lead back to three runs.

    Victor Zambrano (7-4) held the Padres to three runs and six hits in six innings, with two strikeouts and no walks. Zambrano improved to 9-1 for his career in interleague play. Danys Baez pitched the final 1 1-3 innings for his 12th save in 14 chances.

    Rocco Baldelli had three hits for the Devil Rays, who handed the Padres their fourth straight loss.

    Tampa Bay took an early lead for the second straight game against the Padres, jumping on Ismael Valdez for two runs in the first, on a single by Baldelli and a double by Aubrey Huff.

    Brian Giles hit an RBI single in the first for the Padres, who then went ahead 3-2 in the second on Khalil Greene's RBI double and Ojeda's sacrifice fly.

    Tampa Bay tied it in the third on an RBI triple by Baldelli, who was then thrown out trying to score on Huff's grounder to first.

    Game notes

    Piniella tied Al Lopez for 21st on the all-time win list for managers with 1,410. ... Padres left fielder Ryan Klesko was activated from the 15-day disabled list before the game.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press