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Fresh start offers little new

Dewon Brazelton made his first start for Class A Bakersfield on Sunday. It resembled many of his efforts with the big-league club.

Brazelton, the Rays 2001 first-round draft pick, pitched 4 innings, allowing six runs and seven hits while walking four in a losing effort as the Blaze fell 11-6 to Stockton.

"You had a guy working on a lot of things there out on the mound," Brazelton said in the Bakersfield Californian. "My mechanics are totally different, and I understand I have a lot of things to do. The only thing that is the same in my pitching is that I still throw right-handed."

Before being sent down by the Rays on June 25, Brazelton was 1-6 with a 6.89 ERA in 10 games. He was sent to Class A to work on his mechanics, and in his debut he settled down somewhat after allowing four runs in the first.

"He's getting much better and we're pleased with his progress," manager Omer Munoz said.

STILL HOT: Bakersfield's Joey Gomes is continuing the strong play that made him 2002 Hudson Valley Player of the Year.

The outfielder, an eighth-round pick in the 2002 draft, is batting .280 with nine home runs and 44 RBIs. He leads the team with 21 doubles and is tied with second baseman Fernando Cortez for second on the team with 90 hits.

Last season with the lower Class A Renegades, Gomes led the league with 15 home runs and added 48 RBIs and a .565 slugging percentage. Continued good play soon may land him on the same roster as younger brother Jonny Gomes, playing for Double-A Orlando.

Jonny, an outfielder, is batting .234 with a team-high 13 home runs for the O-Rays.

TIMELY BREAK: This week's Southern League All-Star break couldn't come at a better time for the tired Orlando pitching staff. After All-Star Jim Magrane pitched eight scoreless innings against a potent Carolina lineup Friday for his team-leading eighth win, the Mudcats woke up over the weekend.

The Rays were torched for 24 runs on 28 hits by Carolina, losing 15-4 and 9-8. In the latter, Orlando held an 8-1 lead only to squander it and lose in the 11th.

Pitchers Jose Veras and Jon Switzer joined Magrane as Orlando representatives in Tuesday's All-Star Game.

HAPPY HOLIDAY: For consecutive seasons, Charleston set an attendance mark with a July 4 game followed by a fireworks show. The RiverDogs provided a few fireworks of their own with a 3-2 win in front of 8,116.

Returning home after a 7-4 road trip, Charleston fell behind 2-0 to Rome and failed to get a hit through five innings. But in the sixth B.J. Upton had a run-scoring groundout, and in the seventh Tampa native Elijah Dukes drove in the winner with a single.

Charleston has won five of its past six on Independence Day.

BIG WEEK: Durham began a six-game homestand Tuesday with four against North Division-leading Buffalo. The Bulls, 46-41 through Monday and in first place in the International League's South Division, then host Norfolk for two games before the All-Star break. Norfolk trails Durham by two.

_ JOHN SCHWARB, TIMES WIRES

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