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Rays: Tiny strike zone a big reason for loss

John Lackey and the Los Angeles Angels ended Scott Kazmir's six-game winning streak. The Tampa Bay lefthander was convinced that plate umpire Derryl Cousins contributed.

John Lackey and the Los Angeles Angels ended Scott Kazmir's six-game winning streak. The Tampa Bay lefthander was convinced that plate umpire Derryl Cousins contributed.

Gary Matthews Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero homered for the host Angels in yesterday's 4-2 victory. But what bothered Kazmir and Rays manager Joe Maddon the most was Cousins' strike zone.

Reggie Willits drew a two-out walk just before Maicer Izturis drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a single in the seventh that ended Kazmir's outing, and Maddon was ejected by Cousins after changing pitchers.

"That was unbelievable. I've never seen anything like that before," said Kazmir, 24. "I mean, you come into the game and some of the veteran guys are talking about an umpire that doesn't like calling anybody out on strikes. They called him 'shoe box.' You shouldn't change your zone just because of the count."

There were 18 strikeouts in the game, and only two batters looked at strike three - Tampa Bay's Willy Aybar in the fourth inning, and Matthews in the eighth.

"It's a big advantage for a hitter if he knows that the guy's not going to call somebody out on strikes," said Kazmir, who pitched six scoreless innings against the Angels in a 2-0 victory on May 10 to begin his winning streak.

Maddon, who spent 31 years with the Angels and six as manager Mike Scioscia's bench coach, has been ejected eight times in his three seasons as a manager - four times against the Halos.

"I didn't like the calls. I didn't like the calls at all. I was disappointed with that and I let my voice be heard," Maddon said.

Lackey (3-1) allowed two runs and four hits over 7 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking two.Kazmir (6-2) allowed three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and three walks.

In other games:

* At Toronto, Raul Ibanez singled home the winning run in the ninth inning, Felix Hernandez (5-5) worked eight strong innings and Seattle beat the Blue Jays, 2-1.

* At Cleveland, Justin Morneau drove in three runs and Jason Kubel hit a homer to help Minnesota defeat the Indians, 8-5.

* At Detroit, Justin Verlander (3-9) pitched a four-hitter for his third career complete game and Marcus Thames hit a three-run homer, lifting the Tigers to a 5-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

* At Boston, Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell homered to help lift the Red Sox over Baltimore, 6-3. Bartolo Colon (4-1) picked up his 150th career victory, pitching six strong innings.

* At Kansas City, David Murphy hit two home runs, including his first career grand slam, and drove in a career-high five runs to help Texas beat the Royals, 11-5.

* At Oakland, Justin Duchscherer (6-4) pitched seven innings, allowing only one run, and Jack Cust went 2-for-2 with three RBI as the Athletics scored six runs in the third inning and beat the New York Yankees, 8-4.


* New York officials confirmed that the Yankees are seeking more public financing to build their new stadium. State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said the Yankees now say that if they don't get another $400 million in public financing, they might not be able to finish the stadium.

* Fenway Park's food stands flunked city health inspections on more than a dozen health and safety measurement on the Red Sox' Opening Day April 8, from storing food at unsafe temperatures to failing to clean food preparation counters. Ultimately, 19 home dates passed before the stands, operated by Aramark, passed inspection on May 16.

In another matter, slugger David Ortiz, a native of the Dominican Republic, became a U.S. citizen.

* Athletics designated hitter Mike Sweeney had arthroscopic surgery on both knees and is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks. *