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Weary Rays welcome win, rest

The best way to describe it may be as a win-wind situation.

With howling Hurricane Jeanne approaching, the Devil Rays were forced to play Saturday's game under a three-hour curfew and cancel the game scheduled for this afternoon.

The Rays finished Saturday with a 6-5 walkoff victory over the Blue Jays _ the teams racing through the first eight innings then swapping dramatic twists in the ninth _ and expanded their lead to 2{ games, with eight to play, in the race to avoid finishing last.

And today's cancellation provided them with an unexpected but well-received break, with most of the weary players planning nothing more than spending the day on the couch _ assuming they don't lose power _ watching football.

"At least we can wait out the hurricane enjoying a win," manager Lou Piniella said.

With the winds blowing and the clock ticking, it figured to be a weird night, with 20,978 watching. What looked to be an easy victory, based on a strong outing by Dewon Brazelton, homers by Midre Cummings and Geoff Blum, and Aubrey Huff's 102nd RBI, turned out to be anything but. First the Rays squandered a 5-3 ninth-inning lead as Danys Baez blew his first save in more than three months and Blum was the victim of a cruel hop. Then the Rays came back and won it without getting a hit, scoring on a walk, a bunt, a Toronto error and a sacrifice fly _ by Blum.

"The only good thing that came out of it was the win," Blum said.

With the storm coming, Major League Baseball decided early to cancel today's game and impose a curfew Saturday, meaning no inning could start after 9:15. That was to make sure the Blue Jays could leave before St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport closed and fly to Baltimore, where they play Monday.

"The sooner we get out of here, the better," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

The players had the same idea, the game moving briskly as 20 of the first 29 Toronto batters swung at the first or second pitch. Despite the ninth-inning drama, the game was played in a relatively quick 2 hours, 20 minutes.

The hurricane season has had a lasting effect on the Rays season, impacting three home games at their domed stadium. Sept. 4-5 games against Detroit were postponed because of Hurricane Frances and rescheduled for a Thursday doubleheader. Today's game won't be made up; tickets can be exchanged for any remaining game, no refunds are being offered. The Rays also missed the first game of a Sept. 6 doubleheader when they couldn't make it to New York on time because of Frances.

The storm is expected to move through today, but the Red Sox, who open a series at Tropicana Field on Monday, are monitoring the conditions. They may stay home tonight and fly here Monday morning.

"We've been hit with everything this year, what's another canceled game because of a hurricane?" Blum said.

The cancellation wasn't exactly taken as bad news in either clubhouse.

"I'm fine as long as they don't make us come back next Monday to make it up," Gibbons said. "And as long as we don't have to forfeit."

Piniella told his players to be careful and stay off the streets today. Most didn't plan to go far anyway.

"I'm going to put my feet up, hang out, watch football and relax," Carl Crawford said. "Enjoy the day off."

FOR THE FANS

The Rays will not offer refunds for today's cancellation. Tickets can be exchanged for any remaining game.

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