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Rays' Zambrano recovers to top NY again

4/7/2004

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Alex Rodriguez unveiled his power
stroke to his new team. Mike Mussina couldn't make it stand up.

Rodriguez hit his first home run for the Yankees, but the Tampa Bay Devil Rays roughed up Mussina and overcame an early four-run deficit for a 9-4 victory Tuesday night.

"We talked about that all spring. We're going to score runs.
Not that we're not going to have problems at times, but certainly
we need to rely on our pitching," Torre said Tuesday night after

Victor Zambrano gave up the first-inning home run to Rodriguez
and another to Gary Sheffield, then found a way to keep the rest of
the Yankees' powerful lineup quiet, beating the defending AL
champions for the second time this season.

"It looked like it was going to be a big day for us
offensively," Rodriguez said. "We were just a hit short of
blowing it open."

Julio Lugo hit a two-run homer and Jose Cruz Jr. went 4-for-5
with an RBI to deny Mussina in his fourth bid to become the 100th
pitcher in major league history with 200 career victories.

Mussina (0-2) also lost last week's season opener to Zambrano in
Japan, where the Devil Rays and Yankees split a pair of games
before returning to Florida to resume their spring training
schedule.

"It's frustrating," Mussina said. "I felt good out there. I
made bad pitches."

The right-hander allowed nine runs and six runs in four innings.

Tuesday night's re-opener drew a crowd of 41,755, announced as
just the second home sellout in Devil Rays history, even though it
fell well short of the 45,369 that turned out for the expansion
club's inaugural game at Tropicana Field in 1998.

Zambrano (2-0) fell behind 4-0 on two-run homers by Rodriguez
and Sheffield. A-Rod went the other way with his, the ball barely
clearing the right-field wall.

But the Yankees didn't get another hit until Jason Giambi
singled off reliever Chad Gaudin with two outs in the seventh.

"The Opening Day [victory] in Japan was real nice, but this one tops it. You do it in front of your home crowd and show the people of Tampa Bay this team is a legitimate team," Tampa Bay's Aubrey Huff said. "We're going to be competitive, and we're going to play with a lot of good teams out there in the American League."

After giving up three runs and six hits and walking one in six
innings to beat the Yankees 8-3 last week, Zambrano looked more
like the pitcher who struggled last year to get the
ball over the plate consistently.

He struck out five in five innings, but also allowed a
career-high seven walks, hit a batter and had a wild pitch. He
threw 90 pitches, just 39 for strikes

Zambrano escaped a jam after walking Derek Jeter and Rodriguez
with two outs in the second by getting Giambi to fly to the wall in
right. He hit Rodriguez with a pitch and walked Giambi with one out
in the fifth, only to get off the hook again when Sheffield struck out
and Giambi was caught stealing to complete an inning-ending double
play.

"We were just hoping that Victor would hold them right there --
just to four runs -- and maybe we'd have a chance to battle back,
and we did that," Tampa Bay's Tino Martinez said.

"He showed me something," Devil Rays manager Piniella said of
Zambrano. "He threw a lot of pitches and struggled, but he
battled. That was impressive to me."

The Devil Rays rallied on Cruz's RBI single in the first and
Lugo's homer in the fourth, which was a part a four-run inning.
Martinez trimmed New York's lead to 4-2 with a run-scoring single;
Lugo made it 4-4; and Carl Crawford's run-scoring triple put Tampa
Bay ahead 5-4.

Toby Hall drove in two runs for Tampa Bay with a sacrifice fly
in the fifth and an RBI single in the seventh. Lugo finished 2-for-4
with three RBI, and Cruz had two singles, a double and a triple.

Game notes
Mussina has allowed 11 runs and 19 hits in nine innings in
his two starts this season. ... Rodriguez was 1-for-12 lifetime
against Zambrano before his homer. ... Both benches were warned
after Yankees reliever Paul Quantrill hit Damian Rolls with a pitch
to load the bases in the seventh. ... The Devil Rays are 4-3 in
their seven Tropicana Field openers. ... World Junior Middleweight
boxing champion Winky Wright, a St. Petersburg resident, threw out
the ceremonial first pitch. ... The Yankees have received permission from Major League Baseball to allow Giambi's trainer Bobby Alejo to fly with the team for this season only. Yankees' general manager Brian Cashman said the team took the action as a courtesy.