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DEVIL RAYS 2, MARLINS 0

Brazelton pitches in for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Dewon Brazelton had a lot on his mind long before he found himself flirting with a no-hitter.

Brazelton held the Florida Marlins hitless until Mike Lowell doubled with two outs in the eighth inning last night, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays won, 2-0, for their 12th straight interleague victory.

Things have been going so well for Tampa Bay the past month that the 24-year-old righthander was concerned about letting his teammates down as the Devil Rays continued a historic push to turn around their season.

"There were some nerves involved, first of all because I knew we were coming off a big road trip -- all those wins in a row," Brazelton said of the 12-game winning streak -- longest in franchise history -- that ended in Toronto Wednesday night.

"I didn't want to disappoint my teammates or the fans of Tampa Bay. . . . I want them to have confidence when my name is up on that lineup."

Brazelton (1-0) didn't make it through three innings despite being staked to a 7-0 lead against Arizona June 19. This time, he lost his no-hit bid when Lowell lined a ground-rule double to left-center with two outs in the eighth. Lowell worked the count to 3-2, then fouled off three straight pitches before delivering his hit. "I made three or four quality pitches that he fouled," said Brazelton, who threw 125 pitches. "Finally I threw that last one and I didn't care, I wasn't going to walk him."

Brazelton walked six, struck out five and hit a batter on his way to his second big league win, which came exactly a year after the Devil Rays -- frustrated by his 1-6 record and 6.89 ERA -- demoted him to Single A Bakersfield, where he spent the last two months of the 2003 season. Danys Baez got four outs for his 14th save in 16 opportunities, allowing a single to Hee Seop Choi in the ninth before finishing the combined two-hitter.The victory was the 14th in 15 games for the Devil Rays, who improved to a major league-best 25-7 since May 20 and -- at 35-35 overall -- joined the 1899 Louisville Colonels as the only major league teams to reach .500 after being 18 games below at any point during a season. The Devil Rays also are a major league-best 12-1 in interleague play, a startling turnaround from 2003 when they went 3-15 against NL opponents for the most losses by one team in one season.

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