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A rough day right down to the dress

Scott Kazmir had a bad day Sunday.

His slider didn't slide.

His middle finger didn't feel right.

And his dress didn't fit.

The follow up to Kazmir's dominating performance Tuesday in Boston wasn't much.

The 20-year-old left-hander allowed six hits (a couple on bad bounces) and three walks and didn't get out of the third inning, in part because of the lack of command of his slider and in part because of a "hot spot" on his middle finger that was the beginnings of a blister.

"I don't even know how to explain it, I just didn't have it today," Kazmir said. "Hopefully my next start I will."

"That's what you're going to get with young kids, a good game and not so good a game," manager Lou Piniella said.

Kazmir said blisters never have been a problem, but he never has pitched this many innings (125) in a season, either. Neither Kazmir nor Piniella expects it to keep him from making his next start.

As if his performance weren't disappointing enough, Kazmir had more problems.

The veterans chose Sunday for the annual rookie hazing exercise, taking their clothes and leaving them dresses and costumes to wear on the trip home. Kazmir was pleased to get a relatively tame blue-and-white dress, but it got stuck as he tried to pull it over his shoulders and had to be cut off.

"I was just glad I got a good color," Kazmir said.

HOT STUFF: The dressed-up rookies were a rather, um, eclectic bunch. B.J. Upton got a Superman costume and John Webb a Spider-Man outfit (get it?). Chad Gaudin wore a Goldilocks dress, Matt Diaz said he was a "beer wench," Jorge Cantu had a velvet "black widow" dress, Doug Waechter looked like Maid Marian and Franklin Nunez had a two-piece ensemble.

Glancing around the clubhouse, and knowing players had to walk through the Toronto airport to clear customs, Upton decided the tight blue outfit and cape wasn't such a bad look. "As long as I didn't get a dress," he said.

NO DEFENSE: Jose Cruz didn't have a good explanation for how he went from making two errors and winning a Gold Glove last season in San Francisco to making a major-league outfield-leading 10 errors this season.

"I don't know," he said. "It's just a little bad luck, some judgment calls, throwing some balls that just hit the fielder's glove and dropping out, bad hops. It's weird, man. I never had anything like what's happening."

Cruz had not made more than three errors in a season since 1998. The 10 match his combined total for the four previous seasons.

ON THE RUN: Carl Crawford stole once to push his AL-leading total to 57 but trails Milwaukee's Scott Podsednik, who leads the majors with 61. "I want to catch him," Crawford said.

PITCHING IN: Todd Ritchie was disappointed in his performance Saturday, but Piniella saw enough to want to see more and confirmed Sunday he will start the veteran right-hander in Thursday's makeup game at Yankee Stadium. "He did okay," Piniella said. "He had nice presence out there, his experience showed, he kept the ball down." Piniella said it might serve Waechter well to pitch six or eight weeks in winter ball to make up for time he missed while on the disabled list.

MISCELLANY: The Rays finished their seasonlong two-week, four-city, 13-game trip 4-9. Tonight's game will be their first at Tropicana Field since Sept. 3. Reliever Lance Carter held the Jays to two hits over 4 innings, his longest outing in the majors. Aubrey Huff improved his career average at SkyDome to .377 (55-for-146) and hit his 11th homer. Shortstop Julio Lugo set a career high with his 23rd and 24th errors. The Jays lead the series 9-7, with three games remaining at Tropicana Field.

_ MARC TOPKIN, Times staff writer

HURRICANE RELIEF

The Devil Rays will collect donations at their home games this week to aid relief efforts for hurricane victims. Collection points will be set up at Gate 1 at Tropicana Field. The United Way of Tampa Bay will coordinate distribution of the funds, and 100 percent will be passed on for disaster relief and long-term recovery. The Rays collected and contributed about $60,000 for the Hurricane Charley relief fund during their last homestand.

TONIGHT: RAYS VS. ROYALS

PITCHERS: Royals _ LHP Brian Anderson (4-11, 5.94), Rays _ RHP Dewon Brazelton (6-7, 4.59).

NOTES: Anderson has been a huge disappointment much of this season but is 3-3 with a 4.31 ERA since rejoining the rotation July 19. The Rays are the only team he has not faced in his career. As much as Brazelton has struggled on the road, he has starred at home, going 6-2 with a 2.11 ERA in 11 appearances at the Trop. He beat the Royals on July 27 in their only meeting, allowing two runs over six innings.

OUTTA LEFTFIELD

The Rays were glad to get home after a two-week trip and aren't happy about giving up Thursday's off day to go to New York for a makeup game with the Yankees. "I made plans to go fishing Thursday," manager Lou Piniella said. "Now if I go fishing it's going to have to be in Sheepshead Bay."

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