SAN DIEGO (AP) -- After testing the depths of Petco Park in his
first two at-bats, Fred McGriff uncoiled his smooth swing and sent
his 493rd career home run sailing into -- naturally -- the home run
porch down the right-field line.
McGriff pumped his fist as he rounded first base, having taken
another step toward his goal of 500 homers and helping the Tampa
Bay Devil Rays extend their franchise-record winning streak to
eight games with a 4-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Thursday
"It felt good because it's been a lot of years," said McGriff,
who tied Lou Gehrig for 21st on the career list. "Home runs are
tough. This is a big yard. It's 411 in right-center, 402 in
left-center. I found the spot."
McGriff hit his two-run homer just over the 322 sign, on a 1-0
changeup from Adam Eaton in the sixth inning. He flied out to left
in his first at-bat and to center in his second.
"Freddy placed it right where it carries pretty good," Padres
manager Bruce Bochy said. "I didn't think it was going out, but he
hit it in the right spot and that really was the difference in the
McGriff has homered in 43 ballparks in 18 big league seasons.
McGriff was brought up from the minors May 29, resuming his
quest to become the 20th player to hit 500 homers. He hit 84 homers
while with the Padres from 1991 until being traded to Atlanta on
July 18, 1993.
"Right now, the goal is just to get to 500," McGriff said.
"Not having played the first couple of months, it's a fight right
The Devil Rays are enjoying watching McGriff approach the
"It's a blessing to be here with him," winning pitcher Chad
Gaudin said. "Every at-bat, it's like, 'C'mon, Freddy.' We want
him to get to his goal."
"He's had a heck of a career," manager Lou Piniella said.
The Devil Rays also swept consecutive series for the first time
in their seven-year history. Before starting this trip, they beat
Colorado three straight in Tampa.
The perennially woeful Devil Rays came into the series in fifth
place in the AL East and jumped all the way to third.
Gaudin (1-1), who pinch-ran for McGriff in the first two games
of the series, won in his fifth career start. He allowed one run
and seven hits in five innings, struck out four and walked one.
Danys Baez pitched the ninth for his 13th save in 15 chances.
The Devil Rays had just five hits but the Padres, their offense
still sputtering, wasted a superb effort by Eaton (3-7).
The right-hander allowed one earned run and two hits in six
innings in San Diego's season-high fifth straight loss. The Padres
have dropped from first in the NL West to third during the slump.
"Obviously the way things are going for us right now, I mean,
if something can go wrong it's going to go wrong," Eaton said. "
Baldelli hit an RBI single in the seventh and Toby Hall an RBI
double in the eighth.
Payton came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth
and struck out.
"That was just a horrible ballgame for us tonight," Bochy
said. "Play like that and you're going to get beat. We had a great
pitching effort there by Adam, but we made too many mistakes and
again we couldn't get the hit when we needed it."
With his 1,411th career win as a manager, Piniella moved
out of a tie with fellow Tampa native Al Lopez and into sole
possession of 21st all-time. Piniella is two short of tying Miller
Huggins for 20th. ... The Devil Rays swept their first road series
since winning three straight at Toronto July 29-31. ... Tampa Bay
faces Randy Johnson on Friday night at Phoenix. ... Piniella said
McGriff won't start Friday night, but will get at least one start
during the series at Bank One Ballpark, where he's never homered.