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Arrojo bears down enough for a big lift

The Devil Rays don't know how good Rolando Arrojo can be. They are aware the Cuban defector is going to need time to adjust to the major leagues, and they know there are going to be good stretches mixed with bad.

Thursday they got a look at the upside.

And it was way up there.

Acknowledging he was determined to break the Rays' six-game losing streak, Arrojo dominated from the start, holding the Twins to three hits in a 2-0 complete-game victory.

"You could just look in his face and see he wasn't going to be denied what he wanted," pitching coach Rick Williams said. "It's just a look, a look of confidence. You don't see that look with a lot of people. But you see it with Rolando. He has the look."

Arrojo made his sixth major-league start clearly his best. He mixed his pitches well, using a variety of deliveries to move the ball around the plate. He improved to 3-2 and lowered his earned-run average to 4.10.

"Every game that I've pitched, I gain a little more confidence," Arrojo said through a team interpreter. "It's amazing the way I've grown. Every time out I feel more like I belong."

Arrojo has made a number of adjustments in learning the major-league game, and all seemed to come together Thursday. The Rays specifically worked with him on his approach against left-handed hitters, who weren't thrown off by his sidearm delivery and had produced a .400 average.

"I've seen him progress along, especially in his last three starts, against left-handers," manager Larry Rothschild said. "In his last start it didn't show statistically, but there was a completely different approach and you could see it was the right way to go.

"He was over the top more, getting them to chase more breaking balls, using his split-finger as a changeup. That's key, because as hard as he throws he can run some balls in on left-handed hitters and they're not going to get comfortable off him. From the lower slot, they get more comfortable."

Arrojo, who allowed four runs on nine hits in his last outing, said he is getting increasingly more comfortable pitching against major-leaguers.

"When Larry told me last time that I pitched real well, that really encouraged me to work a little harder and to concentrate on this game more for this victory," Arrojo said.

His teammates couldn't have been happier with his contribution.

"I think today we saw what he can do," catcher John Flaherty said.

"Obviously, the story of the game was Rolando," DH Paul Sorrento said. "He picked us up big-time. He threw a great game. It was something we needed."

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