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D'Rays Win, Boggs Still 3 Shy


On a night that Tony Gwynn got his 3,000th hit, Wade Boggs stayed put in his pursuit of the milestone.

Boggs remained three hits shy of the plateau Friday night, going 0-for-3 with a walk in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' 4-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The five-time AL batting champion admitted to being more nervous than usual before the game at Tropicana Field, which is about 20 miles from where he grew up and played Little League ball in Tampa.

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  • "There were butterflies. But once the game started and I got into the flow, they sort of left," Boggs said, adding that he doesn't necessarily feel added pressure to reach the milestone in the remaining five days of a six-game homestand.

    "It'll happen whenever it wants to. ... You can't sit there and drive yourself nuts about when it's going to happen or it's got to happen in the next three at-bats. You'll drive yourself absolutely nuts."

    A crowd of 34,623 well above Tampa Bay's season average of 20,479, but about 9,000 shy of a sellout watched Boggs fly to left in the first, hit a comebacker to the mound in the third and ground to first in the sixth against Indians starter Dave Burba.

    Fans booed when reliever Steve Karsay nearly hit Boggs with a pitch and then walked him in the seventh. The 41-year-old third baseman let out a groan that could be heard throughout the park when he jumped back to avoid ball three.

    "I thought it was going to hit me in the hand, and it scared me. I had flashbacks of sayonara, see you later, we'll see you in 2000, and it scared me," Boggs said.

    "But that's not the first ball that's ever come close to hitting me. I know he didn't do it on purpose and thre was nothing there to indicate that he did."

    Boggs offered words of congratulations for Gwynn, who needed one hit to reach 3,000 and went 4-for-5 in San Diego's 12-10 victory over the Montreal Expos.

    "It's a very special time for not only him and his family, but for major league baseball to go ahead and get that taken care of. My hat's off to him. Nice going. Work on 4,000 now."

    Aaron Ledesma drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single off Burba (8-7) in the sixth for a 3-2 Tampa Bay lead. Dave Martinez followed with an RBI single to give the Devil Rays a two-run cushion.

    Yan (3-2) pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings for the win and Roberto Hernandez pitched the ninth to earn his 29th save in 32 opportunities.

    The Indians stranded six runners and were 0-for-6 with men in scoring position before finally breaking through against starter Rolando Arrojo in the sixth.

    Trailing 1-0, Cleveland loaded the bases with one out on a hit batsman and two walks. Enrique Wilson's sacrifice fly to left drove in Jim Thome before Einar Diaz singled in David Justice from second base to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.

    The Devil Rays came right back with three runs in the bottom of the inning off Burba, who had limited them to Bubba Trammell's run-scoring double and a single by Fred McGriff in the first five innings.

    McGriff, 1-for-19 against the Cleveland starter before Friday night, singled for his second hit of the game with two outs in the sixth. Trammell and Paul Sorrento walked to load the bases for Ledesma, whose two-run single put Tampa Bay ahead 3-2.

    Martinez followed with his RBI single.

    Arrojo, who hasn't won since beating Texas on May 18, allowed two runs, six hits, walked two and struck out two in 5 2-3 innings. Burba also went 5 2-3 innings, yielding four runs on five hits with four walks and five strikeouts.

    Burba didn't take any satisfaction in shutting down Boggs, who's 1-for-7 lifetime against the right-hander.

    "Naturally I don't want him to get the hits off me, but I've got to approach him like any othe hitter in the lineup," Burba said. "If I start focusing all my attention on him, then the guy behind him is going to get me. He's the one that's going to hurt you, not Wade with a base hit. I'm just trying to get him out."

    The loss was costly for the Indians, who lost outfielder Jacob Cruz in the seventh inning when he tore a ligament in his right thumb sliding into second base.

    Cruz will fly to Cleveland for an MRI exam on Saturday.

    Notes

  • Devil Rays manager Larry Rothschild was ejected in the top of the sixth after arguing balls and strikes with plate umpire Brian O'Nora
  • Boggs left Wednesday night's game in Seattle with slight inflammation in his right knee. He said most of the fluid was gone and the knee was virtually pain-free by Friday
  • An Indians pitcher has yielded a 3,000th hit only once in the franchise's 99-year history. Jose Mesa allowed a single to Milwaukee's Robin Yount for his historic hit on Sept. 9, 1992.
  • Cleveland shortstop Omar Vizquel booted Tony Graffanino's ground ball in the fourth inning for his 11th error. He had five all of last season
  • Indians centerfielder Kenny Lofton missed his eighth straight game because of a strained right hamstring
  • Devil Rays LHP Wilson Alvarez, on the disabled list since July 24 with left triceps inflammation, threw on the side. If he feels fine Saturday, he may start Sunday's series finale against Jaret Wright
  • Tampa Bay is 7-16 since Jose Canseco went on the disabled list on July 10.

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