<
>

Huff hits three-run homer

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The worst team in the majors less than a month
ago, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays suddenly have baseball's longest
current winning streak.

Aubrey Huff hit a three-run homer, Mark Hendrickson pitched into
the eighth inning and the Devil Rays tied their franchise record
with their sixth straight victory, 5-2 over the San Diego Padres on
Tuesday night.

Heck, the Devil Rays aren't even in last place in the AL East
anymore, jumping five percentage points ahead of Toronto, which
lost at San Francisco.

"Every day we come to the yard, everybody's joking around,
having a great time" Huff said. "Nobody's down, everybody's
talking. It makes it a lot more fun. When you go out there and have
fun, you're going to win a lot more ballgames.

"We were walking zombies the first month and a half of the
year."

The Devil Rays were 10-28 on May 19. They've gone 17-6 since May
20.

With Oakland's eight-game winning streak ending at St. Louis,
Tampa Bay has the longest current winning streak. The season-high
six straight wins have come against teams from the NL West,
baseball's weakest division. The Devil Rays won two against San
Francisco and three against Colorado at home before starting a
nine-game trip.

"We're coming to the field every day knowing we have a good
chance to win," Huff said.

The Devil Rays have won six straight just four times in their
seven-year existence. Their 27 wins are their most after 61 games.

With Hendrickson (4-5) holding the Padres scoreless into the
sixth, the Devil Rays beat up on Brian Lawrence (8-4), the Padres'
best pitcher.

The big hit came when Huff hit a hanging slider just over the
home run porch down the right-field line on a 3-2 pitch with two
outs in the fifth. Jose Cruz Jr. was aboard on a single and Rocco
Baldelli on a fielder's choice.

Baldelli drove in Tampa Bay's first two runs, on a grounder in
the first and a sacrifice fly in the third.

"I didn't feel terrible, but I definitely didn't have the
sharpness on my pitches, like I have had," Lawrence said.

Lawrence, coming off an 8-1 win at Boston, was chased after
allowing five runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out
four and walked one.

"He's been so solid this year," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He
was just a little bit off tonight. He was close to getting us
through the fifth there without his best stuff and Huff just got
enough of that ball."

Hendrickson, a former NBA forward making his 46th major league
start, held the Padres scoreless until Brian Giles homered to
right-center on a 2-0 pitch with one out in the sixth. It was
Giles' 10th.

The 6-foot-9 left-hander pitched 7 2-3 innings and allowed just
six hits, including rookie Jon Knott's first two big league hits.
Knott lined a single to center in the second for his first hit, and
doubled in the seventh. Hendrickson struck out two and walked one.

"The last three games, I've kept my focus a lot more," said
Hendrickson, who has two wins and a no-decision in his last three
starts.

"We kind of chased too many pitches and didn't get ourselves
good hitting counts," Giles said.

Ramon Hernandez hit a solo homer off Danys Baez in the ninth to
make it 5-2.

Game notes
Tampa Bay's last six-game winning streak was Sept. 24-29,
2000. ... Padres RHP Jake Peavy, on the DL since May 20 with a
strained tendon in his right forearm, threw a bullpen session
Tuesday and is tentatively scheduled to be activated July 2. Before
then, he'll throw another bullpen, a simulated game and go on a
minor league rehab assignment. ... Fred McGriff, who hit 84 of his
492 career homers while with San Diego from 1991-93, had a
pinch-hit single in the ninth and was replaced by a pinch-runner.
... Cruz and Tino Martinez each had three hits.