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Royals Fly To Victory Over Rays

On a night when one homer was hit with a broken bat and another nailed a catwalk over the playing surface, the Kansas City Royals turned a single and sacrifice fly into victory.

Johnny Damon and Hal Morris both drove in runs in the 11th inning as Royals defeated the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6-5 Friday night.

"A very strange ballgame," Royals manager Tony Muser said. "It was like everybody was in the ozone somewhere. It was hard to keep track of all that stuff going on out there."

Damon hit a one-out single off second baseman Miguel Cairo's glove and Morris added a sacrifice fly.

Matt Whisenant (2-1) worked a scoreless 10th inning for the win. Jeff Montgomery pitched the 11th for his 27th save, giving up a run on doubles by Randy Winn and Cairo.

Esteban Yan (4-4) pitched the final two innings, allowing two runs and three hits.

Tampa Bay starter Julio Santana didn't allow a hit until Palmer connected for his 28th homer leading off the fifth. Palmer broke his bat on the homer with a piece of it landing near the pitcher's mound.

"I was kind of shocked. I didn't know what happened," Palmer said. "The bat just fell apart. As soon as I hit the ball, I saw something fly off my bat. I hit it right on the button. I think it was just a weak spot in the bat or weak grain."

Fred McGriff became the sixth player to hit a fair ball off the overhanging catwalk, which supports a bank of lights 100 feet above the playing field. The two-out shot off Tim Belcher was McGriff's 14th homer this year and only his eighth since April.

Two of the catwalk incidents have involved the Royals, who have played only three times at Tropicana Field. Kansas City's Ernie Young hit the structure on May 13.

"Everytime we come here, the ball hits the catwalk," Muser said. "Everytime time we leave here, nothing hits it. I don't know, maybe we're the catwalk club."

The Royals rallied for two runs in the ninth against Roberto Hernandez to tie it at 4, then won it in the 11th. Jose Offerman walked, Dean Palmer singled and Jeff Conine hit an RBI double with one out. After Mike Sweeney was intentionally walked to load the bases, Jermaine Dye drove in the tying run with a grounder.

"We gave it away. There's no question about it," Devil Rays manager Larry Rothschild said. "It's a frustrating game. Nobody what's to lose games like that. We let it slip away."

It was Hernandez's eighth blown save in 29 chances.

Bobby Smith started Tampa Bay's three-run first inning with a single and McGriff homered. Bubba Trammell followed with a triple and came home on Paul Sorrento's infield single.

Sorrento added his team-leading 15th homer, a solo shot in the fourth inning. Sorrento entered the game with only threRBIs in his past 27 games.

Notes:

  • Damon has 12 of his 45 RBIs this season against Tampa Bay
  • An injured right elbow will likely sideline Royals starter Hipolito Pichardo for the rest of the season. An MRI Friday indicated Pichardo (7-8, 5.13 ERA), who left Thursday's start after five innings, has a strained ligament. Pichardo was placed on the 15-day disabled list and right-hander Jose Santiago (3-4, 22 saves, 3.61 ERA) was recalled from Double-A Wichita. ... The Royals are hopeful pitchers Kevin Appier (shoulder surgery) and Glendon Rusch (left rotator cuff tendinitis) might rejoin the club by the end of the month. Both have been given rehabilitation assignments with Triple-A Omaha.
  • Morris played for the first time since leaving Tuesday's game with back spasms.
  • McGriff became the first Tampa Bay player to hit a catwalk in fair territory. Others accomplishing the feat are Frank Thomas, Jim Edmonds, Ernie Young, Edgar Martinez and Andres Galarraga.

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