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Rapid rise amazes first-time winner

Two years ago, Jorge Sosa was a weak-hitting outfielder at the Class A level of the Rockies organization. Last year, he was learning how to pitch for the Mariners team in the short-season Class A Northwest League. In March, he was in spring training with the Brewers but was waived and claimed by the Rays.

Sunday, he was standing in the SkyDome visiting clubhouse getting the traditional cold beer shower to commemorate and celebrate his first major-league victory.

"I'm very surprised how fast everything has developed," Sosa said through interpreter Carlos Ledezma. "Today is very sweet."

Sosa, 24, has been impressive, stringing together three quality starts (six or more innings, three or fewer runs). The Rays have been pleased with what he has done, throwing as hard as 94 mph Sunday but also mixing in breaking balls as slow as 76, and how he has done it.

"He holds his own," manager Hal McRae said. "We just hope he continues to make progress and give us good outings. And he's been very composed on the mound."

Sosa said being on a regular schedule has allowed him to better prepare and learn more about the opposing hitters.

Since a rough first start, when he was unexpectedly recalled from a rehab assignment at Double-A Orlando to replace injured Ryan Rupe, Sosa has gone 1-1 with a 4.13 ERA.

Besides the cold reception, he got a ball from the game. Eventually, it will make its way to the Dominican Republic.

"I'm going to give it to my dad for all the sacrifices he made for me," Sosa said.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: As usual it wasn't pretty, but Esteban Yan got the final three outs for his 12th save. After striking out leadoff man Chris Woodward, Yan got one out on a sizzling line drive speared by second baseman Brent Abernathy, walked Jose Cruz and ended the game when Carlos Delgado lined hard to left.

"Yan had some balls hit at somebody; that hasn't happened too often," McRae said. "His location has to be better because the barrel of the bat was pointed at the defenders today."

RUMOR MILL: The Diamondbacks, Astros, Reds and Braves supposedly are showing interest in pitcher Paul Wilson, whose 4.17 ERA is a better indication of his ability than his 2-7 record. Yan is said to be one of the relievers Anaheim is interested in. The Giants and A's are among those interested in Randy Winn. ESPN's Jayson Stark says there are "repeated grumblings about the Devil Rays' demands for top prospects plus a million bucks."

NOW PITCHING: Tuesday's doubleheader leaves the Rays short a starter for Saturday's game against the Yankees. McRae said they'll likely use a combination of relievers rather than call up a pitcher from the minors, with Travis Harper, Steve Kent and Brandon Backe all possibilities. A decision won't be made until McRae sees whom he has to use Tuesday.

ON THE SEVENTH DAY: Winn didn't start after dropping a fly ball and going 0-for-4 Saturday, though he did deliver a pinchrun-scoring single in the ninth. "It seems like he's wearing down a little bit," McRae said. "It seems like he's losing the edge he had all season."

DETAILS, DETAILS: With the Durham team on a trip to Louisville, Carl Crawford didn't see any reason to pack his passport or birth certificate. That turned out to be a bigger issue when he was called up Saturday. He got into Canada by showing a photo ID and a credit card, but he wasn't sure if that would work with U.S. officials on the way back. "They might not let me out of Canada," he said.

MISCELLANY: McRae and the coaching staff will represent the Rays tonight at the Ted Williams tribute at Fenway Park. The Rays' 25 runs in three games was more than they had in their previous 10. Felix Escalona, out with a sore right groin, may not be ready to play until Wednesday or Thursday.

_ MARC TOPKIN

OUTTA LEFTFIELD

Carl Crawford figured a lot of friends and relatives wanted to congratulate him on making it to the big leagues, but he wondered why he hadn't gotten any calls. "My cell phone doesn't work up here," Crawford said. "I won't know the reaction until I get to Boston."

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