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Indians' Rodriguez irks Royals with gestures

4/13/2003

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Kansas City Royals want to remember their
winning streak -- and vow not to forget Ricardo Rodriguez.

The Royals lost for the first time this season, ending
baseball's best start in 13 years as Rodriguez pitched the
Cleveland Indians to a 6-1 win Sunday and strained some relations
along the way with a handful of flamboyant gestures.

"Hopefully, he'll be around the next time we face them,''
Royals outfielder Michael Tucker said.

The Royals, the first club to start 9-0 since the 1990
Cincinnati Reds, claim Rodriguez tried to show them up.

Instead, he kept Kansas City from becoming the eighth team in
history to open at 10-0, and first since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers
started 13-0.

"I just hope everybody enjoyed it as much as I did,'' Kansas
City manager Tony Pena said of the streak, which tied for the
fifth-longest overall in team history.

Milton Bradley had four hits, including his second homer for
Cleveland -- and took a few verbal swipes at the Royals, too.

"We brought them down to earth a little, burst their bubble,''
Bradley said. "They wanted to fight, so I tried to beat them with
my bat and glove.''

Rodriguez (2-0) allowed one run and eight hits in seven innings,
and the rookie right-hander rankled the Royals with his flashy
attitude.

"If that's how he wants to come into the league, fine,'' Tucker
said. "I'd like to see him do it when he has 20 wins. If he ever
lasts that long.''

Rodriguez hit Carlos Febles in the left arm with a pitch in the
second inning and Mike DiFelice followed with a single to load the
bases. Then Rodriguez struck out Tucker to end the threat -- and
fuel the Royals' ire as he pumped his fist wildly in celebration.

"First, I didn't want to hit anybody,'' Rodriguez said. "I
never do.

"But it was a tough spot, bases loaded, and I was excited, real
excited. They had that winning streak and maybe that was 75 percent
of it. I told myself all day I wanted to beat them.''

Royals starter Darrell May's first pitch in the bottom of the
second was behind Brandon Phillips, and plate umpire Tim Timmons
warned both managers. Players from both teams came out of the
dugouts to yell at each other.

"I wasn't surprised,'' May said of the warning. "It got me
fired up after being in the bullpen for 15 days and helped me.''

Bradley saw it otherwise.

"I just think it was gutless,'' he said. "I yelled at them,
'Why throw at the kid? Come after me, I'll take the battle scars
for this team.' "

Rodriguez was even more animated in the fourth. The Royals got
three singles to again load the bases. This time, the right-hander
got Tucker to ground into an inning-ending double play, then wildly
gyrated in Tucker's direction.

"Same thing, just happy I got out of it,'' said Rodriguez, who
claimed he did not hear Kansas City players yelling at him.

Jose Santiago pitched the eighth and Danys Baez the ninth for Cleveland, which broke a three-game losing streak.

Bradley, who has hit in all 11 games, triggered a five-hit,
three-run first inning with a sharp single to left off May (0-1).

Bradley went to second on a one-out single by Ellis Burks and
scored on another single by Shane Spencer. The runners moved up on
a groundout and both scored on a single by Josh Bard to make it
3-0.

Raul Ibanez made it 3-1 in the Royals fifth with his third homer
in four days, a 419-foot shot to right.

With runners on first and third and two outs later in the
inning, Rodriguez simply got lucky. Mendy Lopez hit a grounder that
glanced off the glove of diving third baseman Casey Blake. The ball
caromed toward shortstop Omar Vizquel, who reversed his momentum,
grabbed the rebound and tossed to second for the force.

Cleveland made it 4-1 in the sixth. Travis Hafner broke an
0-for-27 streak with a gift double as his popup was lost in the sun
by right fielder Dee Brown. Phillips then singled to left and
Hafner scored when Ibanez mishandled the ball for an error.

Bradley hit his second homer with one out in the eighth and went
4-for-5 to put his average at .370. Burks later singled in the
final run.

Game notes
The Indians' three-run first equaled their run total for
the previous 19 innings. ... Cleveland's bottom six in the batting
order went 7-for-23 after entering the game hitting .151
(26-for-172). ... May was the last member of the Royals' 25-man
roster to appear in a game.