ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Tantalizingly good at times,
agonizingly bad at others. That's the book on Victor Zambrano, who
took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Barry
Bonds-less San Francisco Giants.
The Tampa Bay right-hander apparently was so focused on his job
after giving up an unearned run in the first inning that he was
oblivious to holding the Giants hitless for so long in the Devil
Rays' 5-2 victory Thursday night.
"Until I gave up the hit, I didn't know," Zambrano said after
the Devil Rays finished their first interleague series win in
nearly two years.
"The pitcher evidently wasn't aware and neither was the
catcher. They were concentrating on the ball game," manager Lou
Piniella added. "That's what you're supposed to do."
Zambrano (6-4) lost his bid for a no-hitter when Damon Minor,
filling in for Bonds as the Giants' designated hitter because the
six-time NL MVP was attending a funeral, led off the seventh with a
line drive single to right.
Three hitters later, the Devil Rays starter was out of the game,
leaving after giving up a single to Pedro Feliz and walking Dustan
Mohr to load the bases. Reliever Trever Miller did his part to
protect a 5-1 lead by striking out Michael Tucker, then Jesus
Colome got Neifi Perez to foul out to end the threat.
Colome worked out of a jam with two runners on in the eighth
when he struck out Minor and Feliz. He then gave up a homer to
Tucker in the ninth before finishing the five-hitter for his first
Zambrano allowed two hits, walked six and struck out six in 6
1-3 innings to improve to 8-1 lifetime in interleague play. The
28-year-old right-hander had all of Tampa Bay's wins a year ago
when the Devil Rays went 3-15 against NL opponents -- a record for
interleague losses by a team in one season.
"He's a pretty good pitcher, that Zambrano," Giants manager
Felipe Alou said. "One of the best breaking balls I've seen.
Whenever he gets command of his fastball, he's going to pitch some
By taking two of three against the Giants, the Devil Rays won an
interleague series for the first time since June 28-30, 2002, when
they took two of three from the Florida Marlins. The Giants dropped
to 5-6 on a 14-game road trip -- the team's longest since 1989.
Bonds missed the game to attend a funeral for the mother of a
childhood friend in California. He's expected to rejoin the Giants
in Baltimore for the start of a weekend series Friday night.
"We missed the big guy," Alou said. "Especially when this
team said they were going to pitch to him. There were many
Without Bonds, the series finale drew an announced crowd of
10,630. The three-day average was 16,433, with a high of 25,495 on
Zambrano leads the majors in walks and hit batters and looked
like he was headed for a typical outing when he walked the leadoff
man in the first inning. Tucker raced to third on Tino Martinez's
fielding error and scored on Marquis Grissom's sacrifice fly for a
1-0 Giants lead.
Rocco Baldelli, who didn't start the first two games of the
series while recovering from a bout with food poisoning, snapped
the fifth-inning tie with his sixth homer. The three-run blast down
the left-field line came after Carl Crawford doubled and Julio Lugo
walked with two outs.
Zambrano, coming off an outing in which he didn't get through
the fourth inning against Baltimore last Friday, also walked
leadoff batters in the second and fourth, but didn't allow either
of them past first base.
Devil Rays catcher Brook Fordyce said the one of the keys
Thursday night was establishing the slider against San Francisco's
"We don't usually do that. We try to establish the fastball,"
"With (Victor), you have to focus on one pitch at a time. ...
It's not like he's getting hit when he gets beat. He walks guys. We
want to make them put the ball in play, and they don't do it very
often when he's in the strike zone."
The Devil Rays chased Rueter in the sixth when Rey Sanchez's RBI
double made it 5-1. The Giants starter allowed nine hits, walked
three and struck out five.
Zambrano threw 113 pitches, 67 of them strikes. ... The
Giants' road trip is their longest since they also made a 14-game
trek in 1989. ... Devil Rays RHP Doug Waechter was placed on the
15-day disabled list with a strained tendon in his right middle
finger. RHP Chad Gaudin was recalled from Triple-A Durham.