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Devil Rays Spoil Appier's Return

August 09, 2003|From Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Not even Kevin Appier could stop the Kansas City Royals' recent slide.

Jeremi Gonzalez gave up three hits in eight innings and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays spoiled Appier's first start since rejoining the Royals, dropping them out of the Central Division lead with a 4-0 win Friday night.

Appier (7-8) signed with his original team Wednesday only one week after being released by the Angels. In his first start for the Royals since July 27, 1999, he gave up two runs and five hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked one.

"It was pretty good," Appier said of his outing. "The only unfortunate thing is it wasn't good enough today. How many would be if a guy throws a shutout against us?"

The Royals, 9-13 since the All-Star break, fell out of first place for the first time since July 1. Kansas City dropped a half-game behind the Chicago White Sox, who beat Oakland, 3-2.

"Winning teams bounce back," Appier said. "You can't hang your head or lose confidence. Just be hungry and mean tomorrow and hopefully we can turn it around real quick."

Kansas City led the Central Division by 7 1/2 games on July 17.

Gonzalez (5-5) struck out four and walked three as the Devil Rays won for the eighth time in 11 games and sent the Royals to their fourth consecutive loss. It was Tampa Bay's fourth shutout of the season.

"He has a big heart," Devil Rays Manager Lou Piniella said of Gonzalez. "He has good stuff to go with it. He competes."

Appier struggled in the first inning, when Tampa Bay took a 2-0 lead on Aubrey Huff's RBI double and a run-scoring single by Rocco Baldelli. But he settled down and gave up only two more hits.

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