Devil Rays 5, White Sox 4

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Damon Hollins and Russell Branyan homered to back the solid pitching of Mark Hendrickson, leading the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to a 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Hollins’ two-run homer off Javier Vazquez (4-3) wiped out a 3-2 deficit in the seventh inning and Carl Crawford’s RBI triple off the White Sox right-hander made it 5-3 heading into the eighth – a troublesome spot for the Devil Rays’ bullpen.

After watching Chicago score six runs against his relievers on Tuesday and three more in the eighth on Wednesday, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon elected to allow Hendrickson (3-3) to stay in the game after limiting the White Sox to six hits in the first seven innings.

When Jermaine Dye homered to pull the defending World Series champions within 5-4, Maddon was left with no choice but to turn to his struggling bullpen again.

This time the move paid off, though not without the White Sox getting the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base.

Tyler Walker, the third Tampa Bay reliever of the inning, got pinch-hitter Scott Podsednick to foul out to end the threat. The Devil Rays closer pitched the ninth for his seventh save in eight opportunities.

Tadahito Iguchi homered off Hendrickson to snap a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning. Paul Konerko drove in a run with a first-inning double, then scored on Dye’s sacrifice fly to stake Vazquez to a quick two-run lead.

The Devil Rays rallied from the 2-0 deficit on Ty Wigginton’s RBI single in the first and Branyan’s solo homer in the second, the outfielder’s third home run in four career at-bats against Vazquez.

The White Sox starter retired 15 of 16 batters after Branyan’s homer and worked out of a tight spot after giving up a leadoff double to Wigginton when he got Toby Hall to fly to center, Branyan to pop to short and Tomas Perez to ground back to the mound.

Meanwhile, Chicago wasted a couple of opportunities to do more damage against Hendrickson, leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and stranding two more runners in the fifth after Iguchi’s homer.

Hendrickson allowed four runs and seven hits in seven-plus innings. He struck out three and walked three.

Vazquez gave up five runs and eight hits in seven innings. Heading into Thursday’s start, he had only allowed two homers in 46 1-3 innings.

Notes: Dye, who also homered Wednesday night, has 10 RBIs in his last five games. … Maddon will miss the first two games of Tampa Bay’s weekend series against Florida to attend his girlfriend’s graduation from law school in California. … Before the game, the White Sox announced contract extensions with five coaches – Don Cooper (pitching), Harold Baines (first base), Joey Cora (third base), Art Kusnyer (bullpen) and Greg Walker (hitting). The team plans to evaluate bench coach Tim Raines at the end of the season.

AP-ES-05-18-06 2154EDT

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