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Cantu, Huff Help Rays Rally Past Yankees

July 9, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Jorge Cantu and Aubrey Huff homered and drove in three runs apiece Sunday, helping the Tampa Bay Devil Rays rally from a five-run deficit to beat the New York Yankees 6-5.

Cantu’s two-run homer off Ron Villone erased a 5-3 New York lead in the fifth inning. Tampa Bay’s second baseman broke the tie in the seventh when he singled to left field after Rocco Baldelli doubled and Scott Proctor (2-2) walked Huff intentionally.

Baldelli set the stage for Cantu’s big hit with a perfect throw from center field in the seventh to cut down Melky Cabrera trying to score from second base on Bernie Williams’ two-out single off Tim Corcoran (4-0).

With owner George Steinbrenner watching from his private box at Tropicana Field, the Yankees took a 5-0 lead on Jason Giambi’s 11th career grand slam and an error that allowed a fifth run to score against Tampa Bay starter Casey Fossum in the third.

Huff began the Devil Rays’ comeback with a three-run homer off New York starter Kris Wilson in the bottom of the third.

Corcoran allowed three hits, but kept the Yankees from scoring in one-plus innings to get the win. Brian Meadows pitched the ninth for his fifth save in five opportunities.

The victory denied New York a sweep of the three-game series and gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 record against first-place Boston and the second-place Yankees during a difficult seven-game homestand heading into the All-Star break.

Wilson allowed three runs and five hits in his first major league start since 2003, when he was 6-3 with the Kansas City Royals. Villone retired the first five batters he faced before Huff doubled and Cantu hit his sixth homer with two outs in the fifth.

Fossum settled down after walking two and hitting Derek Jeter in the right foot with a pitch to load the bases for Giambi, who hit his first grand slam since Sept. 23, 2003, against the Chicago White Sox.

The Yankees added a fifth run in the third when Bernie Williams doubled and scored when Cantu let Andy Phillips’ routine grounder skip past him for an error.

It was a major league-high 18th time the Yankees have scored five or more runs in an inning.

Fossum allowed five runs and five hits in six innings. He struck out four and retired seven in a row before being replaced by Corcoran.

Notes: Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said a tender middle finger on LHP Scott Kazmir’s throwing hand is not a problem and the team would have no concern about him pitching in the All-Star game on Tuesday night. A callous on the finger softened during Saturday’s start against the Yankees, but Kazmir said it didn’t affect his performance. ... Yankees C Jorge Posada did not start after playing the first two games of the series. He entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth and struck out with the tying run on second. Posada said before the game that his wife and children were aboard a flight from New York to Tampa in which a U.S. Army solider was tackled by passengers after running down the aisle and ramming the cockpit door. ``It’s a weird experience. Nothing happened, thank God for that,″ Posada said. ``I’m glad that everything is OK. You don’t want to experience it, but it happened and you go on.″

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