Nomo notches first win since mid-April

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Hideo Nomo's best performance of the
season moved him a step closer to another milestone in an
outstanding career.

The 36-year-old right-hander took a shutout into the eighth
inning Thursday, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays held on for a 2-1
victory that left Nomo one win shy of the 200 he needs for
membership in the Meikyuakai -- one of two Hall of Fame equivalents
in Japanese baseball.

"I'm not too concerned about the 199th win. I'm just glad our
team was able to win the last three games," Nomo said through an
interpreter after the Devil Rays finished a sweep of the struggling
A's, who have dropped five straight and 14 of 17.

"My career is not going to be over after I get to 200. I'll
keep pitching after my 200th win, and I just want to keep helping
this team win. That's what I'm focused on."

Nomo struck out seven and walked two before leaving the game
after giving up a leadoff homer to Marco Scutaro and a one-out
single to Jason Kendall in the eighth. The bullpen then protected a
one-run lead to give him his 121st victory in 11 major league

There are two Hall of Fame equivalents in Nomo's homeland -- the
Japanese baseball Hall of Fame, which includes elected members, and
the Meikyuakai, which is automatic for players with 2,000 career
hits and pitchers with 200 victories.

The Meikyukai currently has 44 members, 15 pitchers.

"One more," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "Let's hope
he gets it the next time out."

It took Nomo (3-4) seven tries to get No. 199. He allowed five
hits in 7 1-3 innings, his longest outing of the season, and won
for the first time since beating Randy Johnson at Yankee Stadium on
April 19.

Trever Miller got two outs in the eighth, and Danys Baez worked
the ninth for his sixth save in nine opportunities.

"To me, this is the best game he's pitched this year,"
Piniella said of Nomo, who threw 105 pitches -- 70 for strikes.

"He was hitting his spots really well, had a lot of called
strikes, which tells me he's throwing the ball where the hitters
can't get at it too easy. He really was in command the whole way."

A night after scoring 10 runs in the first inning and finishing
with 15 hits -- nine for extra bases -- in a 14-6 victory, Tampa
Bay's bats went silent against a pitcher who hasn't won since April

Carl Crawford had two of Tampa Bay's four hits off Dan Haren
(1-7), including an RBI single that gave the Devil Rays a 1-0 lead
in the sixth. Julio Lugo followed with a run-scoring single to make
it 2-0.

Haren limited the Devil Rays to Crawford's leadoff single in the
first, retiring 16 in a row before Nick Green tripled with two outs
in the sixth. Crawford's second hit put Tampa Bay ahead, and the
two-time AL stolen base champion trotted home on Lugo's RBI single
after stealing second and moving to third on a wild pitch.

Haren's six-game losing streak equals the longest of his career.
Thursday's loss dropped Oakland (17-29) a season-high 12 games
under .500 -- the farthest the A's have been under .500 since they
finished the 1998 season at 74-88.

"It's been a very difficult year for me and for the team,"
Haren said. "It's really wearing on me. I feel like I've been
throwing the ball pretty good right now and I'm just not getting
any results at all."

The Oakland right-hander allowed two runs and four hits in seven
innings. He struck out four and walked none.

The A's couldn't take advantage, though, because of a lack of
timely hitting against Nomo.

"There's not a person in the clubhouse that's not frustrated or
embarrassed by the way we've been playing," Kendall said. "At the
same time, we're not going to go out and throw in the towel. We've
got four months left. Scratch and claw until we get out of it. It's
all you can do."

Game notes
The Devil Rays' double-digit first inning Wednesday was the
third in that inning in the majors this month. St. Louis scored 11
against San Diego on May 8, and the Los Angeles Dodgers had 10
against Cincinnati on May 6. From 2000-04, it happened just four
times. ... Oakland's Nick Swisher was 0-for-5 with runners in
scoring position the past two games and is 0-for-his-last-16 in
those situations. ... Lugo has 10 RBI during an eight-game hitting
streak. He's batting .371 with men in scoring position.