Lou Piniella might be grumbling about the lack of support from Devil Rays ownership, but Executive Of The Century Chuck LaMarr says that Sweet Lou was well aware that the club had no intention of spending more dough, writes the Tampa Tribune’s Scott Carter and Bruce Lowitt.

“I can’t speak for Lou,” LaMar said Wednesday when asked about Piniella’s comments during the weekend in Boston. “He does a great job of that. His questioning of ownership … he wants to win as we all do. I know his frustration, he wears on his shirt sleeve, and some of us have to be a little more realistic in the organization.

“The payroll is what it is. [Lou] knew that in November of last year. We all knew that. We knew the payroll was going to be in the $32 to $33 million range. That’s what it is and that’s what it’s going to be this year.”

Piniella voiced his concerns about another season with the game’s smallest payroll before Sunday’s game in Boston. The Rays, while budgeted for a payroll of around $32 million, are currently at $29 million because of the unexpected retirements of Roberto Alomar and Danny Bautista in spring training, and the trade of Jose Cruz Jr. to Arizona.

Piniella, facing a larger-than- normal media throng before Wednesday’s game against Texas, didn’t bite when the subject of the team’s payroll came up.

“My comments were about how we got it done in Seattle, that it was a total commitment,” Piniella said. “Nothing more and nothing else. My job is to manage a baseball team. I don’t make other decisions. I don’t set payroll figures. My job is to manage what I’m given.”

If I’m Lou, I’m wondering what’s up with the extra $3 million the club saved upon losing Alomar, Bautista and Cruz Jr. Although it might cost nearly that much to install proper security at Vince Naimoli’s private toilet.

Tampa’s Dewon Brazelton got his first win, closer Danys Baez his first save of 2005, as the Devil Rays beat the Rangers 3-2 earlier tonight, in front of an alleged 8799 humans, ending the pitcher’s personal 7 game losing streak. Left fielder Jonny Gomes( above, left), just called up from Durham, scored two runs and singled in three plate appearances.