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Rays' Cruz ends 0-for-37 slump

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Jose Cruz Jr. ended his lengthy slump. It wasn't enough to help the Tampa Bay Devil Rays end their slide.

Cruz snapped an 0-for-37 stretch with a seventh-inning single
and added a two-run homer in the ninth, but the Devil Rays lost 6-5
to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.

"Too bad we didn't win, but from a personal level it's nice to
get on the board," Cruz said. "It was definitely a relief. I've
never been through anything like that, for that long. It just shows
that hitting is very mental."

The Devil Rays have lost six straight. They have scored 10 runs
in the past 46 innings.

"When you're losing games, you find a way to lose them," Tampa
Bay manager Lou Piniella said.

Erubiel Durazo hit his second career grand slam with two outs in
the ninth inning for Oakland. The Athletics have won two straight
after a six-game losing skid.

Durazo's bases-loaded shot off Trever Miller that made it 6-1
was his third homer in the past two games. He had a pair of two-run
homers in Oakland's 4-2 win over the Devil Rays Friday night.

"Erubiel carries us again tonight," Oakland manager Ken Macha
said. "Gives us a little breathing room and we needed all of it."

Durazo entered the series with one homer and four RBI.

"I feel a lot of confidence," he said.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Devil Rays scored four times off
Oakland's Jim Mecir behind Carl Crawford's two-run triple -- his
second triple of the game -- and Cruz Jr.'s two-run homer.

"I was just trying to get outs," Mecir said. "We won. That's
all that matters."

Mecir has given up nine runs over his last two relief
appearances, a span of one inning. He failed to get an out on
Tuesday against the Yankees, and his ERA has ballooned to 12.91.

Eric Chavez homered and Bobby Crosby hit a sacrifice fly in a
two-run eighth inning that put Oakland up 2-1.

Chavez tied it at 1 with a lead off homer off Lance Carter
(0-1). The Athletics then loaded the bases with no outs. Dicky
Gonzalez replaced Carter and allowed a tiebreaking sacrifice fly to
Crosby.

Cruz lined a single to left off Chris Hammond in the seventh.
His last hit was a fourth-inning single April 16 against the
Chicago White Sox.

"You definitely need to have short term memory to succeed in
this league," Cruz said. "You have to put it behind you and keep
going. Just keep pushing."

Cruz struck out in the first to set a team-record by going
hitless in 35 at-bats. He also struck out in the third and flew out
in the fifth, extending his drought to 37 at-bats.

Cruz tied Greg Vaughn's mark of 0-for-34 set in 2002 when he
flew out as a pinch-hitter Friday night.

The previous major league streak of going 35 or more at-bats
without a hit in one season was when Chris Widger went 0-for-37
with Montreal in 2000.

Oakland's Rich Harden gave up one run and six hits in six
innings. He held the Devil Rays to 1-for-8 with runners in scoring
position.

Hammond (2-1) threw two scoreless innings for the win.

Devil Rays starter Jeremi Gonzalez allowed six hits over six
scoreless innings. He was looking for his first victory since
beating Baltimore August 19.

Tampa Bay went up 1-0 in the third when Crawford tripled and
later scored when Oakland catcher Damian Miller was charged with a
two-out passed ball.

Miller was picked off second by Gonzalez with two on and two
outs with Chavez at-bat in the fifth.

Gonzalez got some defensive help in sixth. Shortstop Julio Lugo
fielded Jermaine Dye's grounder behind second and threw out the
Oakland right fielder while making a spin move.

Later in the sixth, Gonzalez struck out Crosby with two on and
two outs.

Crosby also struck out with runners on first-and-third and two
outs in fourth. He has struck out at least once in 16 of his 18
games.

Game notes
Plate umpire Jerry Crawford was hit by a pitch in the
collarbone-neck area in the third. After being examined on the
field, he remained in the game. ... Vaughn snapped his 0-for-34
slide exactly two years earlier on May 1, 2002. ... Tampa Bay GM
Chuck LaMar has been nominated for the Branch Rickey Award, which
recognizes community contributions by individuals in baseball.