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Rays finish on a high note10/03/2004 4:01 PM ET
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
DETROIT -- The Devil Rays thoroughly enjoyed achieving their final goal on the final day of the season.
The Rays, who earlier had clinched fourth place in the American League East, topped the Tigers, 7-4, on Sunday to finish with a team-record 70 victories this season.
"It was a good way to finish the season,'' manager Lou Piniella said. "We're pleased. We got out of the cellar and won 70 ballgames. It's a modest step forward.''
"We did it,'' said Toby Hall, who has been with the Rays since 2000.
"I like it,'' said Rocco Baldelli. "It's a nice way to end the season.''
"We took another small step toward the team we want to be,'' Carl Crawford said. "Let's keeping moving forward.''
Aubrey Huff, who also has been around since 2000, was happy, but said he wants to see much more improvement.
"I'd like to get to 85 [wins] next year,'' the slugger said.
Teamwork was a key as the Rays finished their season with six wins in their last 10 games. Eight of the nine Rays starters had at least one hit apiece on Sunday, and John Halama worked five solid innings.
The Rays' previous record for victories was 69 in 2000.
The Rays took a lead in the first inning. Julio Lugo singled, stole second and scored on a single by Baldelli.
They added a run in the second inning, when Matt Diaz reached on an error, went to second on a single by Hall and scored on a single by Geoff Blum.
The Rays scored four more times in the third. Singles by Huff and Jose Cruz Jr. drove in B.J. Upton, who had singled and Baldelli, who had doubled. Diaz followed with a triple that scored Huff and Cruz.
Their final run came in the seventh, when Lugo doubled, moved up on a groundout and scored on Baldelli's sacrifice fly.
The Tigers scored once each in the fourth and fifth innings, and twice in the ninth.
Halama (7-6) allowed two runs on seven hits. He struck out two and threw 81 pitches, 61 for strikes. He was followed by Travis Harper, who worked three scoreless innings, and Lance Carter, who allowed the two runs in the ninth.
Crawford (.296) and Huff (.297) both fell short of their quest to finish with .300 batting averages. Huff also fell one shy of reaching the 30-home run plateau for the second season in a row.
"When you look back at the way I started the season, I'll take it,'' Huff said.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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