Gonzalez hits game-winning, ninth-inning solo shot

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Maybe opponents should stop pitching to those dangerous No. 9 hitters of Tampa Bay.

The bottom spot in the Devil Rays' order has combined for 10 home runs, including Alex Gonzalez's 425-foot solo shot with two outs in the ninth inning for a 3-2 victory over Kansas City on Friday night.

Tampa Bay doesn't have any homers from the cleanup spot, where teams traditionally pack their strongest punch.

"It's 10-0," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "I don't have an explanation for it. I really don't. We've got probably the most productive ninth hole in all major-league baseball."

The Royals scored a run in the eighth to tie it at 2, and four straight Devil Rays batters had struck out before Gonzalez turned on a fastball from Ambiorix Burgos and sent it soaring into the water display behind left field.

Danys Baez (4-0) pitched the ninth to lock up Tampa Bay's second road win in 13 games.

Although all three of Gonzalez's home runs have come from the No. 9 spot, he's just as puzzled as Piniella.

"There's no way I can explain that," he said. "If I'm in that position in the No. 9 hole when it happens, I'm a happy man."

Added Piniella: "Let's hope when the season's over, we don't have to talk about that statistic too much."

Burgos (1-3) gave up the homer on a 95-mph fastball.

"He pitched to a veteran hitter who kind of sat on the fastball," Royals interim manager Bob Schaefer said. "Burgos was outstanding except for that one pitch. The veteran hitter got him and he's going to learn."

Josh Phelps had a two-run single in the third for the Devil Rays, whose only other win in 13 road games had come on April 19 at New York.

"We doubled our road win total," Piniella said.

Doug Waechter, whose longest stint this year had been seven innings, had allowed two hits and took a 2-1 lead into the eighth. But he gave up singles to Mark Teahen and Ruben Gotay and was lifted for Trever Miller after Angel Berroa sacrificed the runners into scoring position.

Miller intentionally walked David DeJesus to load the bases and Baez came in to face Eli Marrero, who delivered a sacrifice fly that scored Teahen with the tying run. Baez then got Matt Stairs to
ground out for the third out.

Waechter went 7 1/3 innings and gave up two runs and four hits.

"I felt like I got into a pretty good rhythm," Waechter said. "I got quick outs, which is always my goal. The team won, and that's my main goal."

Right-hander D.J. Carrasco, one day after being called up from Triple-A Omaha, pitched six strong innings in only his third major-league start. He gave up five hits and two runs.

"I'd chalk it up as a pretty good outing for me," said Carrasco, who has spent most of his career in the bullpen.

"The game is a lot more interesting as a starter," he said. "I compare it to chess and checkers. Out of the bullpen it's more like checkers, out of the starting rotation it's more of a chess game. It feels good to be a starter."

The Devil Rays had a hitter deliver with the bases loaded for the second straight game after they had been 0-for-19 in bases-loaded situations.

Alex Sanchez's double, Julio Lugo's single and Aubrey Huff's
walk loaded the bases in the third with two outs. Phelps then singled in two runs.

The Royals got a run off Waechter in the second when Emil Brown
drew a one-out walk and scored on an RBI double by John Buck, who had a two-run double the night before.

The road futility has been a familiar problem for the Devil Rays, who started last year 3-17 away from home and didn't win their first road series until May 31-June 3.

"Any win on the road is good for us at this point," Gonzalez said. "Maybe we can get some kind of momentum going into this road trip."

Game notes
Thursday night's 7-5 loss to Kansas City was just the second game in Devil Rays history that failed to go nine innings. ... Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney was out a second straight game with a pulled muscle on his right side. The Royals said he was day-to-day and would not go on the DL. ... First baseman Ken Harvey was removed in the third inning with what the Royals called increased tightness in the
back. ... Tampa Bay center fielder Damon Hollins went hitless for just the second time in 12 games since being called up on May 2.