Aaron Ledesma's two-run single seals the Indians' fate 4-2.
It was awfully sweet of all those people to show up Friday, just to see Aaron Ledesma break out of a slump.
Okay, so maybe a handful in the announced Tropicana Field crowd of 34,623 were actually there to watch this Wade Boggs character, but it was Ledesma who sent them home happy.
The Devil Rays shortstop hit a two-out, two-run single in the sixth to drive in the tying and winning runs in a 4-2 victory against the Indians. Boggs, meanwhile, went 0-for-3 and remained three hits shy of 3,000.
"I didn't focus all of my attention on (Boggs)," Cleveland starter Dave Burba said. "I should have focused all of my attention on Ledesma."
While Tampa Bay fans have been waiting for Boggs to return from a six-game road trip to renew his quest, Ledesma has been waiting much longer for a big moment of his own.
Before his game-winning hit, Ledesma had been stuck in a 10-for-62 (.161) rut. The slump had caused his career average to drop below .300 for the first time earlier this week.
"It's been a rough couple of weeks for me," Ledesma said. "But I think it's coming back. I feel more comfortable today than I did a week ago."
All of which made Ledesma an unlikely hero when he stepped to the plate in the sixth.
Burba had given up only one run and three hits, although he had loaded the bases after a two-out single by Fred McGriff and walks to Bubba Trammell and Paul Sorrento.
Ledesma, starting for injured Kevin Stocker, stroked a single up the middle to erase Cleveland's 2-1 lead. Ledesma added a single in the eighth. Dave Martinez, in a 1-for-19 skid, followed with another run-scoring single.
"I think I was concentrating too much," Ledesma said. "I was thinking too much instead of just going up and being the hitter I am."
Once Ledesma did his thing, the bullpen took over. Esteban Yan, Norm Charlton and Roberto Hernandez combined for 3 innings of one-hit ball.
For Hernandez, it was his 29th save and eighth in a row, but only his second chance since July 18.
"The wins are going to be a little harder to come by with Jose (Canseco) out and Fred (McGriff) hurting," Hernandez said. "But that doesn't change my job. When they call on me, I've got to get it done."
Rays starter Rolando Arrojo continued his recent string of solid performances, although he has little to show for it. In five starts since coming off the disabled list, Arrojo has a 3.60 ERA and an 0-2 record with three no-decisions.
"I thought he was outstanding. A lot of the hits were ground balls, but you could clearly see the stuff was there," manager Larry Rothschild said. "I thought, stuff-wise, it was the most impressive he has been all year."
The Rays staked Arrojo to a 1-0 lead, but he was unable to hold it in the sixth after loading the bases by hitting one batter and walking two. After a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single, Arrojo exited.
Rothschild followed him shortly afterward.
After Yan ran the count to 3-and-1 on Omar Vizquel, home plate umpire Brian O'Nora walked halfway to the Rays dugout and ejected Rothschild. Rothschild charged out and went nose-to-nose with him until crew chief Richie Garcia came in from second to intervene.
"I argued balls and strikes and, as we all know, that's what happens," said Rothschild, who has been ejected three times this season. "I rarely say anything from the bench, but tonight you could see it coming."
Yan eventually got Vizquel to line out to right, then retired the Indians in the seventh to get his third win.