<
>

Waechter took no-hitter into sixth

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Doug Waechter and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays
showed some resiliency.

The Minnesota Twins are getting a little restless.

Waechter took a no-hit bid into the sixth and threw seven strong
innings, leading the Devil Rays to a 4-2 victory over the Twins on
Wednesday night.

"If you can get seven innings out of a young pitcher against a
good lineup and they only get two runs, that's good pitching,"
Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said. "After we got thumped, for us
to come back is a good sign."

Waechter (3-5) gave up three hits, two runs and two walks while
striking out one. Rocco Baldelli went 2-for-5 with two runs and an
RBI, and Aubrey Huff had two RBI to help the rookie withstand
Corey Koskie's two-run homer in the seventh.

"You always want to set the tone early, and I was glad to be
able to do that," Waechter said. "This is one of my top games
this year, but hopefully there'll be more to come."

A 23-year-old right-hander who gave up 14 home runs in his first
seven starts this season, Waechter gave the Devil Rays' struggling
staff a big lift after watching the Twins score 16 runs the night
before. Tampa Bay brought the third-worst ERA in the majors into
this game.

"He threw some good changeups, and he's got a lot of movement
on his fastball -- which is tough," catcher Brook Fordyce said.

Waechter walked Jose Offerman and Joe Mauer to start the third,
but got Cristian Guzman to bounce into a fielder's choice and Lew
Ford to ground into a double play.

In the fifth, Torii Hunter hit a sharp liner that second baseman
Rey Sanchez snagged with a quick move to his left. Jacque Jones
followed with a deep drive to center field that was caught by
Baldelli.

Finally, with two outs in the sixth, Ford singled up the middle
for Minnesota's first hit.

"We hit some balls hard," Jones said. "I don't think our
hitting coach would be unhappy with our approach at the plate. But
you're not going to win games by just hitting balls hard."

Doug Mientkiewicz started the seventh with an infield single,
and Koskie spoiled Waechter's shutout bid with a shot to right that
hit the folded-up football seats to pull the Twins within a run.

But Sanchez hit an RBI single in the eighth against J.C. Romero
to make it 4-2, and Danys Baez got five outs for his ninth save in
nine chances.

Twins starter Brad Radke (4-3) gave up nine hits and three runs
in seven innings without a walk. He struck out three, taking his
first loss in seven starts since April 26.

Radke has long been hurt by a lack of support, and that's been a
problem again this season. The Twins have scored two runs or less
in five of his 12 starts, and Radke -- in an unusual move -- left the
clubhouse before speaking to reporters.

Clearly, the Twins -- who have lost nine of 13 -- are frustrated
by their sudden offensive struggles after hitting the ball well for
the first six weeks of the season.

Normally easygoing, pitching coach Rick Anderson snapped at a
reporter who pointed out Radke's uncharacteristic early departure.

"He's keeping us in games and giving us a chance," Anderson
said.

Baldelli singled with two outs in the seventh and made it 3-0
when he scored all the way from first on a long single to
right-center by Huff.

Sanchez, 9-for-16 in his career against Radke, led off the third
with a single and scored on a triple by Baldelli. Huff drove him in
with a sacrifice fly -- a sinking liner to center field that
three-time Gold Glove winner Hunter caught on a dive.

Hunter's left wrist bent awkwardly underneath his body as he
slid on the turf and grimaced in pain, but manager Ron Gardenhire
and trainer Jim Kahmann checked him out and he stayed in the game.

"That looked really ugly. That wasn't fun running out there,"
Gardenhire said.

Hunter will be re-evaluated Thursday.

Game notes
Waechter threw the first nine-inning no-hitter in the
history of the Tampa Bay organization while pitching for Class-A
Hudson Valley on Aug. 10, 2000. He beat Pittsfield in a New
York-Penn League game. ... Twins 2B Luis Rivas (groin) could be
sent on a minor league rehab assignment Thursday. ... Huff was
batting just .186 on May 7, but his average is up to .263. He is
11-for-24 with nine RBI in his last six games and has hit in 11
straight.