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Rays look bit better, still lose

Tampa Bay gets walks, scores twice, but loses a 2-0 lead as Anaheim wins 5-2.

The Devil Rays got two walks Tuesday. They got a couple quick runs. And they still got beat.

They lost to Anaheim 5-2 this time, marking their fourth straight defeat and 10th in 12 September games. They are 2-7 on the cross-country road trip that _ mercifully _ ends in Anaheim tonight. And they can just about forget topping last year's total of 69 wins because they now need to win nine of their final 17 games.

The Rays led 2-0 after the second, and it looked for a while like Bryan Rekar, who didn't allow a hit until the fifth, would make it stand up. Instead, he gave the game away in a brutal seventh.

"He had some quick innings and got some quick outs, and then the roof caved in on him," manager Larry Rothschild said. "He pitched well, but you've got to be able to get through that seventh inning and into the eighth when you're having that type of game if you're going to win the game.

"It's a close game. It's right there before you. There's three or four outs to get. The difference between winning and losing in a lot of cases is getting those outs."

Having snapped a 23-inning scoreless streak Monday, the Rays treated themselves to two actual runs in the second inning Tuesday, courtesy of Greg Vaughn's 27th home run of the season.

And having gone 45 innings since last drawing a walk, the longest streak in the majors in at least eight years, the Rays finally showed some patience in the sixth when Fred McGriff took a 3-and-1 pitch from Tim Belcher for ball four. Vaughn also drew a walk in the ninth.

But by the end of another miserable night, the 20th time in 29 games the Rays have scored three or fewer runs, none of that really mattered. The bigger question might be, how much did the loss matter to the Rays players?

"We just got to keep battling," catcher Mike DiFelice said. "I don't know the answer. Guys are swinging but we just aren't getting any hits, putting anything together. Guys are going out there trying to be aggressive. I don't think there's a lot of taking going on."

The Angels are clinging to life in the playoff race, though it was hard to tell Tuesday given an announced crowd of 15,689 at Edison International Field.

The Rays took a 2-0 lead in the second. McGriff, who had two hits Monday after starting the road trip 1-for-18, got things started with a single to right. Vaughn did the rest, driving the first pitch he saw from Tim Belcher over the centerfield fence, a blast estimated at 408 feet.

The Rays didn't do much after that. They had two on in the fifth when Gerald Williams flied to deepest center, and wasted Randy Winn's leadoff single in the sixth when Steve Cox grounded into a double play.

Rekar started strong, pitching out of whatever little early trouble he got into.

His biggest mess came in the second, when two walks and an unsuccessful double play put Angels on first and second with one out. But he struck out Bengie Molina, and got Adam Kennedy to ground into a force play.

The Angels halved the lead in the fifth, though they didn't exactly pound the ball. Troy Glaus blooped a single to right-center, and Molina followed with a hard single to left. Glaus moved to third on a fly out to right, and scored on an infield out by Benji Gil, who tapped a slow bouncer to the right side.

Rekar got into all kinds of trouble and got knocked out in the seventh.

Singles by Garret Anderson and Molina set the stage for Anaheim's rally. Kennedy ripped a one-out drive to the right-centerfield gap that went for a two-run triple, putting Anaheim up 3-2.

They quickly went for more by calling for a squeeze bunt, and Gil did a good job to get his bat on a high 1-and-0 pitch, allowing Kennedy to score.

Rekar left after walking Darin Erstad, having allowed four runs on five hits while walking three and striking out five. Rekar refused to comment after the game.

"He just started missing a little bit in that inning, and a good offensive team is going to take advantage of those mistakes," DiFelice said.

Doug Creek didn't help matters, walking the two batters he faced to load the bases. But Tony Fiore came to the rescue, striking out Anaheim cleanup man Tim Salmon.

Anaheim got to Fiore for another run in the eighth on singles by Glaus, Molina and Kennedy.

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