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Rangers set homer mark, but fall to Rays

9/8/2002

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Texas Rangers aren't overly
impressed by their new home-run record.

Texas set a major league-record by homering in its 26th
consecutive game when Rafael Palmeiro hit a solo homer in the sixth
inning of the Rangers' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on
Sunday.

''I wasn't even thinking about it,'' said Palmeiro, who has four
hits in his past 22 at-bats. ''I forgot all about that. I was just
trying to do something good to get myself straightened out a little
bit. It's nice, but it's not that big a deal, really.''

Palmeiro's 39th homer this season and 486th of his career came
on a 1-1 pitch from Wilson Alvarez. Alex Rodriguez later hit his
major league-leading 51st homer, a solo shot off Esteban Yan in the
eighth.

The 1941 New York Yankees, 1994 Detroit Tigers and 1998 Atlanta
Braves homered in 25 straight games.

''I guess it's nice to have a record,'' Texas manager Jerry
Narron said. ''Our team is 16-10 in that time, so we'll take that.
But for me, I'd take pitching records over those home run records
anytime. You're better off in the long run.''

The Rangers also hit homers in 21 straight games earlier this
season from June 24-July 18. They are the only team to have two
streaks of 20 or more games in a single season.

Aubrey Huff, Steve Cox and Ben Grieve had two RBI apiece for
Tampa Bay.

Huff went 3-for-4 and has a career-high 15-game hitting streak.
Over the stretch Huff is hitting .443, raising his average 22
points to .328.

Jorge Sosa (2-7) won for the first time since July 21, giving up
one run and two hits over five innings. He had five losses during
an eight-game winless streak.

Huff put the Devil Rays ahead 1-0 with a first-inning RBI
single.

Randy Winn opened the third with a bunt single. Texas then
employed a shift on the left-handed hitting Huff, playing shortstop
Alex Rodriguez on the first-base side of second. Huff responded by
hitting a double that one-hopped the wall down the right-field
line.

''It's the first time it's ever happened to me,'' Huff said. ''I
had taken a pitch, looked up and I'm like 'what?' I saw A-Rod
behind the pitcher. I had a thought in the back of my mind, should
I lay one down. But, you just want to be beat it.''

Winn and Huff scored on Cox's single to make it 3-0.

''We had some life today,'' Tampa Bay manager Hal McRae said.
''We looked like a ballclub. We did some good things. You always
look better when you pitch and hit.''

The Rangers scored once in the fourth -- on a Sosa wild pitch --
after loading the bases with no outs.

Grieve hit his 17th homer, a two-run shot in the fifth to make
it 5-1.

After Palmeiro homered in the sixth to get the Rangers within
5-2, Huff got the run back in the bottom half with an RBI single.

Palmeiro needs one homer to reach 40 for the fourth time in his
career.

Joaquin Benoit (3-3) allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 2-3
innings. He struck out three and walked five, throwing 103 pitches.

''He's just got to learn to make some adjustments when he comes
out and doesn't have good stuff right away,'' Narron said.

Game notes
The Rangers have 52 homers during the 26-game streak. ...
Palmeiro has 1,563 RBI, moving past Tris Speaker into 28th place
all-time. He tied Andre Dawson for 20th place with 1,039 extra base
hits. ... Palmeiro had gone eight games without a homer. ...
Rodriguez went 3-for-13 with one RBI in the three-game series. He
leads the majors with 125 RBI. ... Grieve has hit six of his 17
homers at home. ... Winn set a team record with 97 hits at home.