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Catcher hits first grand slam in victory over Rays

5/8/2003

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Hitting his first major league grand
slam was just part of the thrill for A.J. Pierzynski.

The Minnesota catcher, who grew up in nearby Orlando, celebrated
a homecoming of sorts Wednesday night with a career-high five RBI
in the Twins' 11-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

About 25 family members and friends, including his parents, were
in the stands.

"Just playing in front of your parents, in your home state, an
hour and a half from where you grew up, is awesome," Pierzynski
said after the Twins beat Tampa Bay for the 10th straight time
dating back to last season.

Bobby Kielty also homered off Joe Kennedy (2-3) during
Minnesota's seven-run fifth inning. Tampa Bay scored five times in
the fourth to take a 6-4 lead.

"Joe Kennedy is a very good young pitcher. I was lucky. My
first at-bat I got a chance to really see him. Then, my second
at-bat, I got the chance to see a lot of pitches," said
Pierzynski, who sent the left-hander's first pitch into the
right-field seats .

"He made a mistake," Pierzynski said, "and I hit it."

Juan Rincon (1-0) pitched 3 1-3 scoreless innings in relief of
Joe Mays to earn his first major league win.

Five days after pitching a one-hitter at Detroit, Kennedy
allowed 10 runs on 13 hits in four-plus innings.

"I went from the best game of my career to the worst," the
23-year-old left-hander said. "That's very drastic."

The Twins scored four runs in the first, but didn't do any more
damage against Kennedy until the fifth when Kielty led off with his
fifth homer of the season. Pierzynski's slam put Minnesota up 9-6.

"You can't get this type of pitching that we're getting from
our starters and expect to win anything. They've got to improve,"
Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "We've tried to change it
around and continue to try to change it around. But how many
options do we have? They've got to get better. That's all."

Mays gave up six runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Kennedy pitched the first one-hitter in Devil Rays history last
Friday night, allowing a leadoff single in the first inning and
then retiring 25 of his next 28 batters.

The opening inning was just the opposite this time.

After retiring his first batter, Kennedy allowed six straight
hits -- including RBI singles by Kielty, Torii Hunter and Dustan
Mohr. Pierzynski drove in the fourth run with a bases-loaded
sacrifice fly.

Jacque Jones drove in the last run charged to Kennedy with a
double off Mike Venafro. Cristian Guzman's RBI single finished the
seven-run outburst.

Rocco Baldelli had three hits for the Devil Rays, who got RBIs
from six players.

Minnesota's 10-game run against Tampa Bay is the fourth-longest
current winning streak against one club in the majors. The Twins
have beaten Detroit 15 straight times, the New York Yankees have
won 13 in a row against Minnesota, and Arizona has won 11 straight
over Cincinnati.

The Devil Rays' record for consecutive losses to one opponent is
11 to Boston in 2001 and to the Yankees in 1998 and '99.

Game notes
The Twins are batting .488 (21-for-43) with runners in
scoring position in their past five games. They hit .197
(46-for-234) with runners in scoring position in their first 27
games. ... Carl Crawford, who went 4-for-23 on a road trip that
ended Sunday, returned to Tampa Bay's lineup after taking Tuesday
off to work on his swing with hitting coach Lee Elia. ... Minnesota
pitchers haven't allowed a homer in five games, their longest such
stretch since 1997. ... In three career starts at Tropicana Field,
Mays has allowed 14 earned runs in 11 innings.

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