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Baldelli's two-run HR decides game

5/2/2004

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella wanted some offensive production, and Rocco Baldelli provided it.

Baldelli hit a two-run homer and Mark Hendrickson pitched six
solid innings Sunday, helping the Devil Rays snap a six-game losing
streak with an 8-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics.

"We're getting better ... slowly," Piniella said. "The story
was Hendrickson's starting pitching and the way we swung the bats.
We're starting to wake up. It was a good win. Let's hope we can
build on it."

Baldelli connected against Tim Hudson, making it 4-1 with a
two-run shot in the third. Baldelli has hit two of his three homers
this season in the past three games.

"Baldelli was aggressive," Oakland manager Ken Macha said.
"First-pitch fastball and he made us pay."

The Devil Rays scored 40 runs in their previous 15 games.

"Obviously, those guys were due to win," Hudson said.
"They've been scuffling for a while. Today was their day."

Hendrickson (1-2) allowed two runs and six hits. His victory
snapped a stretch of 20 consecutive winless starts by Tampa Bay
left-handers dating to Joe Kennedy's win against Toronto last May
13.

"I think during this streak of not playing well, it's evident
that certain things each game were the reason why we didn't win,"
Hendrickson said. "Today we had some good pitching, we got some
runs there at the end, got on Hudson a little early, too. Just an
all-around good game for the team."

Travis Harper and Danys Baez limited Oakland to one hit over the
final three innings.

Hudson (3-1) allowed eight runs and nine hits in seven innings.
He entered 5-0 in eight starts against Tampa Bay.

"It feels good to start swinging the bats again, especially to
do it against a guy like that," Baldelli said. "He's a great
pitcher. It was a pretty good game for us, a pretty good confidence
boost."

Hudson gave up 11 runs over 36 1-3 innings in his previous five
starts this season.

Eric Byrnes homered for Oakland. The Athletics have lost seven
of nine.

Oakland went 8-11 during a span in which it played 16 of 19
games on the road.

"It should have been better," Macha said. "That's all behind
us."

Robert Fick put the Devil Rays up 2-0 with a two-run, two-out
triple in the first.

Oakland got one run back in the third on an RBI single by Eric
Chavez.

Byrnes' solo homer in the fifth got Oakland to 4-2. Tampa Bay
pitchers have allowed a homer in a franchise-record 13 straight
games.

Carl Crawford drove in a pair with a bases-loaded single during
a four-run seventh that extended Tampa Bay's lead to 8-2. The
Athletics committed two errors and had a passed ball during the
inning.

Tino Martinez started the seventh with a single. Hudson was
charged with an error for a bad throw to second on Brook Fordyce's
bunt. Geoff Blum loaded the bases with a single before Crawford's
hit.

"I started that screwup," Hudson said. "I wasn't ready to
throw to second base. My mind and my body was ready to throw to
first. Just made a bad throw."

Crawford went 7-for-14 with four RBI in the three-game series.

The other Tampa Bay runs in the seventh came when first baseman
Eric Karros was charged with an error for an errant throw home
during a rundown, and a passed ball by catcher Adam Melhuse.

"Everything unraveled in the seventh," Macha said.

Game notes
Crawford stole his AL-best 14th base in the first. ...
Hudson has gone seven or more innings in five straight starts. ...
Fick's triple was his first this year and eighth overall. It came
in his 1,636th at-bat. ... Oakland LF Bobby Kielty doubled in the
third. He had been 0-for-14 in day games. ... Hendrickson won for
the first time since beating the Devil Rays at Tropicana Field last
Sept. 10 with Toronto.