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Devil Rays Hold On For Win

These days, nothing seems to come easy for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The expansion team built a five-run lead Monday night, then squandered it before coming back to beat Toronto 8-7 on Kevin Stocker's eighth-inning sacrifice fly.

Stocker, capping a three-run rally, drove in the winning run off Paul Quantrill (0-3) after the Blue Jays reliever walked Mike DeFelice with the bases loaded to make it 7-7.

"The bottom line is you just want to put one up in the `W' column. It doesn't matter how you get it," Tampa Bay's Wade Boggs said. "In certain instances, you get them taken away from you. Tonight we got one with a real good eighth inning."

The Devil Rays stopped a three-game losing streak by getting what they hadn't in a while timely hitting. They had outhit their opponents in each of the losses in the skid, but were 3-for-31 with men in scoring position.

Rick White (1-3) pitched a perfect inning for his first major league victory since Oct. 1, 1995 with Pittsburgh. Closer Roberto Hernandez got three outs for his 13th save.

"We couldn't let this game go to waste, a 5-0 lead," Hernandez said. "You've got to have the killer instinct and go straight for the throat."

Quinton McCracken homered twice to drive in four runs and Wade Boggs celebrated his 40th birthday with a solo homer that helped the Devil Rays take a 5-0 lead after two innings.

But Toronto starter Woody Williams settled down after the shaky start, and the Blue Jays worked back into the game on Jose Canseco's RBI single in the third and Alex Gonzalez's two-run homer off Tampa Bay starter Julio Sanchez in the fourth.

Tony Fernandez drove in a run with an infield single to trim Tampa Bay's lead to 5-4 in the fifth, and Toronto scored three times in the seventh twice on Ed Sprague's tiebreaking double to go ahead 7-5.

Blue Jays reliever Dan Plesac gave up a pinch single to Mike Kelly and walk to Fred McGriff before being replaced by Quantrill with no outs in the eighth.

Bobby Smith singled to load the bases for pinch-hitter Randy Winn, who grounded out to trim Toronto's lead to 7-6. The Blue Jays walked Dave Martinez to get to DeFelice, who fell behind Quantrill 0-2 before working him for the game-tying walk.

Quantrill thought he caught the corner with a 2-2 pitch that should have been a called third strike on DeFelice. But patience paid off for the Tampa Bay catcher, who fouled off two pitches at 0-2 and one at 3-2.

"It all boiled down to one pitch ... I've got to make him hit it," Quantrill said.

"There were some borderline pitches," Toronto manager Tim Johnson added. "Some days you get them, some days you don't. You can't blame the umpires."

McCracken and Boggs hit consecutive homers for a 2-0 ead in the first. Williams, who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a 3-1 victory over Tampa Bay on May 19, gave up a single to Martinez and walked DeFelice before McCracken's three-run homer made it 5-0 in the second.

The first multi-homer game of McCracken's career gave him seven homers this season, more than twice his previous single-year high of three for the Colorado Rockies in 1996 and 1997.

It also gave the Devil Rays center fielder, the first position player selected in last year's expansion draft, a share of the team lead in home runs with McGriff, who has hit just one in his last 38 games.

Boggs has been an unlikely source of power for Tampa Bay, too. His fifth homer gave him one more than he had in 104 games for the New York Yankees last year and extended his hitting streak to a season-high nine games.

Notes: McCracken has 13 career homers, including seven in 67 games this season. In the first 274 games of his career, he had six ... Santana made his second start in a week for Tampa Bay after making his first 15 appearances for the expansion team in relief ... Rich Butler, sidelined more than a month with a fractured right hand, was activated before the game. He started in left field and had two hits. To make room on the roster, the Devil Rays sent left-handed relief pitcher Matt Ruebel to Triple-A Durham ... The walk Williams allowed before McCracken's three-run homer was the first the right-hander had given up in 18 innings ... Canseco's RBI single extended his hitting streak to eight games.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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