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JACOBS FIELD Burks' six RBIs key Tribe's win over Devil Rays



Published: Sat, May 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



He unloaded a three-run homer, a two-run single and a sacrifice fly.

By TOM WILLIAMS

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

CLEVELAND -- Freddy Kreuger owned Elm Street, Tony Soprano haunts northern New Jersey and Dominek Hasek will be seeing Darius Kasparaitis in his dreams for some time to come.

For Tampa Bay pitcher Bryan Rekar, Indians slugger Ellis Burks has assumed the role of nightmare master.

In three at-bats Friday against the winless Devil Rays pitcher, Burks tattooed Rekar for six RBIs with a three-run homer, a sacrifice fly and a two-out, two-run single.

The Tribe needed all the runs Burks produced as the Indians resumed their winning ways by out-slugging the Devil Rays 10-6 in a Jacobs Field game delayed by rain for 40 minutes.

Helping hand: Burks' secret weapon? His 6-year-old-son, Christopher, who is visiting from Colorado this weekend and was an Indians bat boy.

"I heard him tell some of the players 'I'm my Dad's good luck charm,' " said the 36-year-old Burks after driving in his 21st RBI in the past 16 games. "When he was the batboy in San Francisco the past two years, we had quite a winning record."

Burks' other weapon was concentration.

"You tend to want to concentrate more when you get runners in scoring position," said the outfielder who played for the San Francisco Giants last year.

Roberto Alomar and Juan Gonzalez each scored three times in the first four innings, while Omar Vizquel scored twice as the Indians won for the 11th time in 12 games.

Shelled: Despite being staked to an early seven-run lead, Indians starter Tim Drew was knocked out after three innings after surrendering homers to Greg Vaughn and Fred McGriff.

After the game, the Indians sent Drew down to Triple-A Buffalo and recalled Jaret Wright, who hasn't pitched for the Tribe in a year after injuring his pitching shoulder.

"Timmy needs more experience," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "There are things he needs to work out, but he does have a future with this organization."

Manuel said Wright would start tonight's game if Chuck Finley, who skipped Friday's game because of a stiff neck, is still unable to pitch.

In all, the Indians and Devil Rays pounded out 25 hits as both bullpens received heavy workouts.

Relief aid: The Indians used six relievers (Justin Speier, Rich Rodriguez, Steve Reed, Ricardo Rincon, Paul Shuey and Bob Wickman) to preserve the early lead.

Rodriguez, who worked a scoreless fifth inning, picked up his first win since joining the Indians in March. It was his first American League win and first victory since September 1999.

"It feels good to get a win," said Rodriguez, who pitched for the New York Mets last year. "I usually don't get such an opportunity.

"I don't like being a one-batter guy -- I really enjoy going out there facing righties and lefties," Rodriguez said. "I can go two or three innings -- I can go all day if you can stand to watch."

Meanwhile, Rekar set a Tampa Bay record by allowing 13 hits in the five innings he pitched.

Five consecutive first-inning hits produce the Indians' first five runs.

Burks unloads: With one out, Vizquel singled and scored on Alomar's triple to right field. Gonzalez and Jim Thome rapped singles and set the stage for Burks' three-run homer into the left-field bleachers.

Vaughn's solo homer in the second inning cut the Tribe's lead to 5-1.

But the heart of the Indians batting order continued to attack Rekar, scoring for three more runs in the second inning after Vizquel singled and Alomar reached base on third baseman Aubrey Huff's error.

RBI singles by Gonzalez and Thome preceded Burks' sacrifice fly that put the Indians ahead 8-1.

The Devil Rays sliced the margin to four when McGriff torched Drew with a three-run homer in the third inning.

Tampa Bay shaved another run off the lead in the fourth inning when Huff and Jose Guillen singled and Felix Martinez hit a sacrifice fly off Speier.

Burks gave the Indians some more breathing room when his two-out single in the fourth inning scored Alomar and Gonzalez to extend the lead to 10-5.

The Devil Rays' bullpen retired the Indians' last 13 batters.

In the eighth inning, Guillen hit a solo shot off Shuey for the Devil Rays' third roundtripper.

williams@vindy.com




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