03/28/2004 1:38 AM ET
Rays, Hanshin play to 7-7 tie
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
|Rocco Baldelli has to prove his strong rookie season was no fluke. (Koji Sasahara/AP)
TOKYO -- Julio Lugo drilled a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth inning as the Devil Rays and Hanshin Tigers played to a 7-7 tie in an exhibition game before 45,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome on Sunday.
With two out in the ninth, Joey Gathright singled over the third baseman's head. Lugo followed with his third hit of the game, a shot to deep center field.
Former Major Leaguers Mike Kinkade and George Arias combined for five hits and three RBIs for the Tigers.
Kinkade had an RBI double in the third inning, a single in the fourth and a run-scoring double in the sixth. Arias doubled in the second, singled in the third and smashed a solo home run in the fifth inning.
"I felt comfortable and relaxed against the U.S. team," Arias said.
The Rays scored first on Rocco Baldelli's long home run to left center field. It was his first home run this month.
The Tigers batted around in the third inning, with Kinkade and Shinjiro Hiyama driving in runs and a third scoring on a throwing error by Rays third baseman Geoff Blum.
The Rays got a run back in the fourth on a leadoff home run by Jose Cruz Jr. off the green wall in center field. Cruz already led the team during Grapefruit action with four dingers.
The Tigers got two runs back in the fifth inning on the one-out home run by Arias and an RBIs single by catcher Akihiro Yano.
"Those guys in front of me gave us a good rhythm, so I just wanted to follow them," Yano said.
The Tigers added their final run in the seventh inning when infielder Takashi Toritani scored on a wild pitch.
Tampa Bay's final three runs run scored in the eighth inning. Lugo led off the eighth with a double and came home on Tino Matinez's two-out single. Baldelli then drilled a two-run homer to center.
Rays starter Doug Waechter pitched three innings and gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk. He struck out one.
"Hanshin was pretty awesome," Waechter said. "The fans were really into it and that made me really into it, too. It is unbelievable how well they know the game. They are the champions and when I left my pitches up and high, they hit them. They play really hard and I have a lot of respect for them."
Tigers starter Hideki Irabu, a former Major Leaguer, pitched six innings and allowed two runs on six hits. He struck out four.
The Rays will play the Yomiuri Giants in an exhibition game on Monday and then open the regular season against the Yankees on Tuesday.
Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.