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Rays Beat 1st Place Indians


It was a familiar sight at Jacobs Field the bases loaded with Cleveland Indians and the game on the line but the ending Sunday was different than usual.

Roberto Hernandez retired Harold Baines and Jim Thome to preserve the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' 6-4 win and keep Cleveland from its 19th last at-bat win of the season.

"Confidence, that was the key," Hernandez said after getting Thome on a called strike three to earn his 36th save and 15th in a row.

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  • "I wanted to get ahead in the count with a strike and did. Then he was at the disadvantage. When the count got to 2-2, I wanted a fastball on the outer half of the plate and I nailed it."

    Wilson Alvarez earned his fifth straight win and Fred McGriff hit his 29th home run as the Devil Rays avoided a three-game sweep.

    With one out in the ninth, Omar Vizquel got an infield single, Roberto Alomar walked and Manny Ramirez blooped a single to right to load the bases.

    Baines, who had gotten two big hits for Cleveland since being acquired Friday from Baltimore, then lined to shortstop.

    "The one ball hit hard in the inning and it was caught," Tampa Bay manager Larry Rothschild said. "Go figure baseball."

    Alvarez (9-6) allowed three earned runs in eight innings. He struck out six and walked two in his sixth win in seven decisions since June 14.

    It was the left-hander's fourt career win at Jacobs Field, most by an opponent since the ballpark opened in 1994.

    "We had our chances," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "Had the bases loaded a couple of times and got nothing. When you do that you are just burning runs."

    Ramirez drove in two runs, giving him 133 RBIs, most in the majors.

    McGriff hit a two-run homer in the first and Jose Canseco had a two-run single in the fifth for the Devil Rays.

    Aaron Ledesma snapped a 4-all tie in the sixth with an RBI single off reliever Steve Reed. The hit scored Jose Guillen, who had singled and moved up on a groundout.

    "It feels good to come through," Ledesma said. "It has been kind of a roller coaster ride for me this season, but a hit like that makes things a lot easier."

    Tampa Bay made it 6-4 in the seventh when Canseco walked and scored all the way from first when Bubba Trammell singled to right and the ball was misplayed for an error by Ramirez.

    Tampa Bay, which had just one run in two previous losses, took a quick 2-0 lead off Chris Haney (0-1). Miguel Cairo singled to open the game and scored on McGriff's two-out homer, his 29th.

    Ramirez had a sacrifice fly in the first. The Indians tied it at 2 in the third when Einar Diaz drew a leadoff walk and scored as Roberto Alomar's two-out fly ball to right dropped near Guillen, who appeared to lose sight of it in the bright sun and was charged with an error.

    The Indians went ahead 3-2 in the fourth when Richie Sexson tripled and Thome doubled.

    Notes

  • Cleveland catcher Sandy Alomar, on the disabled list since having left knee surgery May 17, flew to San Francisco to see Dr. Richard Steadman. "Sandy is still experiencing pain in the knee and we want to know why," Indians general manager John Hart said. Alomar is expected to be examined Monday.
  • McGriff is within one homer of joining Canseco as the only major leaguers ever to have 30-homer seasons with four different teams.
  • McGriff attended Saturday night's NFL exhibition between the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears.
  • Haney, who made his second start for the Indians, has not won in th majors since last Aug. 30 when with Kansas City.
  • Tampa Bay catchers Mike DiFelice and John Flaherty have hit a combined .367 (29-for-79) in the last 24 games.
  • Roberto Alomar had a 35-game errorless streak snapped at second base.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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