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Punchless Pirates find plenty against Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates ended one of
their longest slumps of the season by getting clutch hits -- and
throwing some punches.

Aramis Ramirez drove in four runs with a three-run double and a
homer, and the Pirates snapped a six-game losing streak with a 12-9
win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Saturday night.

Four players were ejected during a bench-clearing brawl that
started after Marlon Anderson was hit by a pitch by Pirates starter
Josh Fogg in the fourth inning.

"Both teams have been struggling. Things got out of hand a
little bit,'' Anderson said. "If it's something that can spark us
to start playing better baseball, hopefully it's something we can
build on.''

Jack Wilson added four hits -- three doubles -- for Pittsburgh,
which is off to its worst June start (2-9) in more than a century.

Pittsburgh had season highs for runs and hits (17) but nearly
blew a nine-run lead. The Devil Rays scored six times in the ninth
before Mike Williams got Carl Crawford, who had a sacrifice fly
earlier in the inning, to hit a forceout to shortstop Wilson with
the bases loaded to end it.

"I'm proud of our team for not laying down. It showed a lot of
spunk to me,'' said Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella, whose team has
lost eight of nine. "We just fell short. You'd much rather see
that than just an easy 1-2-3 inning and the ballgame being over.''

The fight began with two outs in the fourth, when Anderson
started arguing with Pittsburgh catcher Jason Kendall as he walked
up the first-base line. Anderson used his forearm to knock off
Kendall's mask, sparking both benches and bullpens to empty.

"Just kids having fun,'' Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Kendall and Anderson were ejected by homeplate umpire Mark
Wegner, as were Pirates reliever Julian Tavarez and Devil Rays
reserve outfielder Al Martin.

Tavarez admitted he threw some punches, but only after a Tampa
Bay player he couldn't identify began choking him from behind.

The Devil Rays weren't buying his explanation.

"You look at the film and I think everything would have quieted
down, but Tavarez came out of the bullpen and started throwing some
right hands,'' Piniella said. "And that got it going again.''

Said Martin: "The thing's over and Tavarez, out of nowhere,
threw a punch at (starting pitcher) Rob Bell.''

Fogg (3-3) successfully maintained his composure through both
the offensive outburst and the fight. Before faltering in the final
inning -- during which thunder boomed outside the domed stadium -- he
had given up three runs and eight hits.

"It was an exciting game, to say the least,'' said Fogg, who
allowed seven runs and 12 hits in 8 1/3 innings. He struck out
three and walked one.

Scott Sauerbeck relieved with the bases loaded and one out in
the ninth and walked Aubrey Huff on four pitches.

Sauerbeck gave up two runs on two hits and two walks while
getting just one out. Williams finished for his 17th save.

Julio Lugo had two doubles and two RBIs in the ninth inning, and
Jason Tyner had three hits, including an RBI double, for Tampa Bay.

Bell (0-1) was roughed up for six runs on four hits and four
walks in 3 1-3 innings. He was the Devil Rays' 12th starter of the
season, the most used by any team this year and one short of the
franchise record set in 1999.

Pittsburgh jumped ahead 3-0 in the third when Ramirez hit a
bases-loaded double.

Kendall singled with two outs and Wilson followed with a
ground-rule double misjudged by center fielder Crawford. Brian
Giles was intentionally walked, and Ramirez foiled that tactic with
a drive to left-center.

Ramirez led off the seventh inning with a home run, his fourth
of the year.

Game notes
The Pirates lost seven straight May 3-9 ... Pittsburgh
began June with a 1-9 skid in 1897. .... Tampa Bay OF Rocco
Baldelli did not start after fouling a ball off his left knee. He
walked in the ninth as a pinch-hitter. ... Also sitting was
Pittsburgh OF Kenny Lofton. He was hit in the left foot by a pitch
Friday, three days after fouling a ball off his left big toe. ...
Injured Tampa Bay RHP Seth McClung, on the 60-day disabled list
with a sprained elbow, threw in the bullpen for the second straight
day. Trainer Ken Crenshaw said McClung reported some stiffness, as
he did Friday. ... Amanda Carter, wife of Tampa Bay RHP Lance
Carter, sang the National Anthem.