It was here in 2004 that the Devil Rays ended a 12-game skid. And Friday night, surviving a shaky ninth with their closer on the disabled list, they held on to beat the Royals 6-5 and snap an 11-game streak.
"We're hot," deadpanned manager Joe Maddon.
Brendan Harris and Delmon Young drove in two runs apiece as the Devil Rays, who hadn't won since beating the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 24, shed the longest losing streak in the majors this year. The Royals scored three in the ninth and had the tying run on first before Gary Glover nailed down his first save in more than five years by getting the final three outs.
"That's the way things like that are supposed to end," said Maddon. "It's never by 15-1. It's always a game like that where you have to take it right down to the nubs."
It was Tampa Bay's second victory in its last 23 July road games dating to July 29, 2005, but the 12th victory in the last 15 meetings with the Royals.
"A load's always lifted after you've lost 11 games. To say otherwise would be total denial," Maddon said. "Nobody ever wants to go through that. But I think our guys handled it extremely well.
"The baseball gods conspired against us for about two weeks. Now we get to move on."
James Shields (7-4), who opened the season 6-0, went seven strong innings but faltered in the eighth. In 7 2/3 innings, he was charged with four runs and seven hits, with six strikeouts and no walks to win for the first time in his last five starts.
He was relieved by Casey Fossum after the Royals scored on Mark Teahen's sacrifice fly and Ross Gload's RBI double. Alex Gordon greeted Fossum with an RBI single that made it 6-4.
Glover came in to pitch the ninth in place of closer Al Reyes, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a mild rotator cuff strain. Glover gave up John Buck's solo homer and an infield single to Joey Gathright before getting three flyball outs for his first major league save since May 1, 2002.
"An 11-game losing streak, that was tough to swallow," Shields said. "At the end, I got a little tired. But Glover came in and did an outstanding job."
Right fielder Jonny Gomes got the final out, running in for Mark Grudzielanek's fly ball after hesitating a moment.
"I actually lost it in the lights and panicked, to tell you the honest truth," Gomes said. "It's good to come in here and see smiles on peoples' faces, and get some pigment back in our skin."
Odalis Perez (4-8) gave up 10 hits and five runs in six innings and dropped to 1-5 in nine starts at home. The right-hander has only one win in his last six starts.
"The only thing I know is I don't see any results in the game but I threw everything well," Perez said. "They are an aggressive young team and I was trying to put the ball where I wanted to, and they were able to put the ball in play and score some runs."
Akinori Iwamura doubled leading off the game and scored on Harris' single, then Carlos Pena's RBI single made it 2-0 in the first.
Gathright had an RBI double in the second before Carl Crawford doubled in the third and scored on a double by Young, making it 3-1. Young also had an RBI double in the seventh and was 3-for-5.
In the fifth, Crawford drew the only walk Perez issued, stole second, took third on catcher Buck's throwing error and made it 4-1 on Harris' single.
Raul Casanova's sacrifice fly put the Devil Rays on top 5-1 in the sixth.
Royals manager Buddy Bell refused to discuss his ninth-inning ejection by home plate umpire Tom Hallion, apparently for arguing balls and strikes.
The Devil Rays are 18-18 at Kauffman Stadium. ... Royals DH Mike Sweeney is expected to be out at least a month following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Thursday. ... Tampa pitching coach Jim Hickey may rejoin the team on Saturday. He's missed almost two weeks after surgery to reattach the retina in his right eye. ... C Dioner Navarro was back with the Devil Rays but still sore after a painful collision at first base with Boston pitcher Josh Beckett on Thursday. ... Shields is 3-0 in three career starts against the Royals.