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Flaherty recalls his Red Sox past
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09/12/2002 00:39 am ET 
Flaherty recalls his Red Sox past
But wishes Tampa Bay could beat them
By Bob Bellone / MLB.com

John Flaherty (top) tags out Cliff Floyd in the second inning. (Scott Martin/AP)
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- John Flaherty broke into the big leagues with the Red Sox a decade ago.

It seems nearly that long ago since the Tampa Bay catcher enjoyed a home victory against his former team.

Flaherty did all he could on Wednesday night as the Devil Rays attempted to beat Boston at Tropicana Field for the first time since Oct. 2, 2001.

It just didn't happen.

Flaherty drove in all three Tampa Bay runs with a two-run homer and an RBI single, but Boston ace Pedro Martinez enjoyed twice the run support in a 6-3 victory.

Regarding his individual performance, Flaherty considered himself lucky to reach base three times -- he also drew a fourth-inning walk -- against Martinez.

"I can't hit his slider and his change-up if I was looking for it," Flaherty said. "I look for his heater, and I hope that he gives me one to hit. Tonight he did."

The Devil Rays have dropped 10 consecutive home games to the Red Sox -- including all nine meetings this season -- since Wednesday's starter Paul Wilson won a 10-3 decision last fall.

"It just seems like they have our number," Flaherty said, "but they're not the only club, unfortunately, that it seems that way."

Tampa Bay will have one last chance to snap the skid Thursday afternoon, when the teams conclude a four-game series at the dome.

"We've got one more shot, but we wanted to do more damage to those guys because they did say that they wanted to play us every day," Rays manager Hal McRae said. "So far, we've been kind to them. We'd like to do something to make it hurt."

Flaherty hasn't worn a Red Sox uniform since 1993, but he still has special feelings for the franchise that groomed him for a career in the big leagues.

"No doubt. You come through the system. They don't really brainwash you, but you become a Red Sox and I never thought I would leave there," Flaherty said. "I was very happy coming up in that organization. It was a perfect fit for me."

Flaherty is among a handful of original Devil Rays, but he may be in his final days with the youth-oriented team.

But Wilson appreciated having him for a batterymate Wednesday.

"I was glad to see Johnny swinging the bat like that," Wilson said. "He's a great guy to have behind the plate, and it's even better when your catcher gets you a two-run homer. I'm just sorry that I wasted it."

Bob Bellone is a freelance contributor to MLB.com based in Tampa. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or any of its clubs.





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