Zambrano Beats Clemens, Yankees 4-2

Monday, June 23rd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Victor Zambrano is beginning to show why the Tampa Bay Devil Rays made him their No. 2 starter coming out of spring training.

Zambrano allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings to beat Roger Clemens and the New York Yankees 4-2 on Monday night.

The Venezuelan right-hander lost his spot in the rotation with a shaky April and was demoted to the bullpen _ then the minors _ before working his way back into manager Lou Piniella's plans.

``He's put together four or five nice ballgames,'' Piniella said. ``He showed signs in spring training. I thought he would be a real nice starting pitcher for us. I don't know what happened.

``He lost his aggressiveness on the mound, so we sent him out to Triple-A and told him: `Look, we're going to bring you back here. We like your stuff, you've just got to get the ball over the plate.' ... We sent him out and he's back here in the rotation just like we promised. He's responded and done a heck of a job.''

In other AL games, it was: Boston 3, Detroit 1; Toronto 13, Baltimore 4; and Oakland 3, Texas 1.

Damian Rolls homered twice off Clemens (7-5) and Tampa Bay's defense turned four double plays on the way to stopping a five-game losing skid and ending the Yankees' four-game winning streak.

Rolls, who was 3-for-3 with four RBIs, had just two career homers and was 1-for-8 lifetime against Clemens coming in.

``I was just thinking about hitting the ball. It's Roger Clemens out there, he's nasty and coming after me,'' Rolls said. ``The guy has a presence on the mound. ... Roger supplied most of the power. I was just trying to get the (bat) there. The ball did the rest for me.''

Zambrano, who pitched eight scoreless innings against the Yankees last week in a game in which Clemens took a no-hitter into the eighth, struck out six and walked four after falling behind 1-0 on Alfonso Soriano's 20th homer on the first pitch of the game.

Travis Harper pitched the eighth for Tampa Bay and Lance Carter worked the ninth to earn his 12th save in 16 opportunities.

``This one was more important to me. I pitched against them five days ago, they know me and I know them and we both have to make adjustments,'' Zambrano said. ``Making back-to-back starts against a team means I have to concentrate more. I think I did that. A lot of good things happened today.''

Clemens, who lost his bid for a no-hitter last Wednesday when Tampa Bay's Marlon Anderson singled with one out in the eighth, went seven innings and allowed five hits, struck out six and walked two in his second start since getting his 300th victory June 13. He dropped to 300-156 in his career.

Rolls' homers were the first for Tampa Bay in six games. The first came on a 3-2 pitch after Clemens walked Ben Grieve and Anderson, and the second struck the left-field foul pole and gave the Devil Rays a 4-2 lead.

``The walks are what killed us,'' said Clemens, who remained tied with Hall of Famers Lefty Grove and Early Wynn for 19th on the career victories list.

``In the situation there, a solo shot doesn't hurt me. A three-run kills us. ... The two walks led to that.''

Hideki Matsui drove in the second run off Zambrano with a fourth-inning double.

Soriano reached the 20-homer, 20-steal mark in 74 games, nine faster than the team record he set last season.

Red Sox 3, Tigers 1

At Boston, Tim Wakefield pitched six scoreless innings before leaving with a back injury, and Kevin Millar homered and drove in two runs.

Wakefield (6-3) is day to day after straining his lower back. He left after throwing a ball to A.J. Hinch on the first pitch of the seventh.

The knuckleballer allowed four hits, two walks and struck out five. Mike Timlin got three outs for his second save.

Detroit, with baseball's worst record, dropped to 2-15 in its last 17.

Athletics 3, Rangers 1

At Arlington, Texas, Scott Hatteberg hit a three-run double in the ninth and Oakland sent the Rangers to their eighth straight loss.

Texas has dropped 20 of 22, its worst stretch since going 2-21 in September 1972. The Rangers lost nine straight earlier this season, from May 30-June 8.

The Athletics, who won for the ninth time in 10 games, trailed 1-0 heading into the ninth but loaded the bases with no outs against closer Ugueth Urbina. One out later, Hatteberg doubled to right-center.

It was the fourth blown save for Urbina (0-3) in 22 chances.

Blue Jays 13, Orioles 4

At Toronto, Carlos Delgado increased his major league-leading RBI total to 80, and Shannon Stewart had three hits and a homer in his return from the disabled list.

Delgado went 3-for-4 with a walk and four RBIs for the Blue Jays, who have won six of seven to move within one game of the first-place Yankees in the AL East. Toronto is 12 games over .500 for the first time since Aug. 13, 1999.

Stewart hit a leadoff homer _ his first at-bat in almost a month after missing 20 games with a sore right hamstring. Toronto starter Doug Davis (4-4) allowed two runs in six innings.

Omar Daal (4-9) lost his fourth straight start, giving up nine runs _ eight earned _ on 10 hits in just 2 1-3 innings.