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Mariners obtain Creek for cash

The Rays made a small deal Wednesday, sending reliever Doug Creek to Seattle for cash. With the market flooded with players and contenders hesitant to make moves given the possibility of a work stoppage, they might not make any bigger deals.

General manager Chuck LaMar said Wednesday it was probably 50-50 they would make another deal by Wednesday's deadline for nonwaiver transactions.

"We continue to have discussions every day," LaMar said from St. Petersburg. "Those discussions in several cases have led to us swapping names of players to see if there is a fit for both sides. At this time it wouldn't surprise me if we don't make a trade before the deadline. It's 50-50. And we'll only make one if it's advantageous, if we think we've gotten better for next year and the future."

Most of the talks have apparently focused on four arbitration-eligible players: pitchers Paul Wilson (Diamondbacks and Astros) and Esteban Yan (Angels), outfielder Randy Winn (Giants, A's and Yankees?) and first baseman Steve Cox (Red Sox and Braves).

Creek, 2-1 with a 6.27 ERA in 29 games, was designated for assignment on Saturday. In sending him to Seattle, they net about $400,000 _ an approximate $140,000 in cash and about $241,500 they would have owed him in salary plus incentives.

Creek will join an experienced Seattle bullpen as a complement to left-handed specialist Arthur Rhodes. "I was hoping he'd go to a good club," manager Hal McRae said.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT: After a 22-4 loss in Tuesday's matinee, the Rays saved the day with a 5-4 win in the nightcap. They did it with the biggest ninth-inning comeback in team history.

The five runs the Rays scored to win were also the most they ever scored in a ninth inning.

The Rays came back from four-run deficits two other times this season. Tuesday's game was the third they'd won this season when trailing after eight, and the third when being outhit.

While the Rays did their damage in the ninth, the comeback was born in the eighth when Boston manager Grady Little made a controversial decision to take out starter Derek Lowe, who held the Rays to five singles. "No doubt that once Lowe came out it was a different ballgame," Rays catcher John Flaherty said.

PEDRO THE GREAT: The Rays face Pedro Martinez tonight, which usually isn't a good thing. In 10 games, Martinez has five wins, a 2.36 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 68 innings. His velocity is down to the low 90s because of previous shoulder problems, but he remains dominant.

"You hope his velocity is not what it was in the past and that his changeup is not as nasty," Flaherty said. "You hope for that, but in reality that's probably not the case."

MINOR MATTERS: Outfielder Dave McCarty, designated for assignment Saturday, cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Durham. Outfielder Patrick Lennon, a 34-year-old who last played in the majors in 1999, signed a Triple-A contract. Lennon has been playing in Mexico and with an independent league.

EXTRA BASES: Jared Sandberg and Carl Crawford hit their first major-league triples in the sixth inning. It was only the second time the Rays have had back-to-back triples in their history. Andy Sheets' homer was his first in the majors since May 20, 2001, and the second three-run shot of his career.

MISCELLANY: Second baseman Brent Abernathy, in a brutal 3-for-48 slump, got Wednesday and today off to work with hitting coach Milt May. An MLB spokesman said it will be another day or two before MLB vice president Bob Watson decides whether to suspend Yan, who hit Boston's Manny Ramirez with a pitch on July 18. Infielder Felix Escalona, out a week with a groin pull, is targeted to return Friday.

_ MARC TOPKIN

OUTTA LEFTFIELD Vince Naimoli stands out among owners because he often travels with the Rays. But at least he's not on the field. About 3{ hours before Wednesday's game, two men in business attire who looked an awful lot like Sox principal owner John W. Henry and vice chairman David I. Ginsburg were on the field playing catch. Henry, by the way, is being introduced with the W. to avoid confusion with John Henry Williams, the son of Ted Williams who is extremely unpopular in New England.

WORTH NOTING: De Los Santos, 24, had a rough major-league debut Saturday, allowing nine runs in four-plus innings. Martinez has had his way in 10 games against the Rays, going 5-2 with a 2.36 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 68 innings.

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