Prior to watching his Tampa charges end a 7 game losing streak with a 7-5 defeat of the Pirates, Sweet Lou Piniella shared the following with the Assocaited Press.

Devils Rays manager Lou Piniella, wearying after a recent run of blowout losses and embarrassing performances, ripped the last-place team’s ownership Sunday for not caring about winning now.

Piniella said the New York-based owners who bought a controlling share of the perennially poor-performing franchise a year ago don’t seem to care about Tampa Bay’s current on-field product.

“They’re not interested in the present, they’re interested in the future. And that’s their right,” he said. “But when other teams are getting better presently, you’re going to get your butts beat and that’s exactly what’s happening.”

Piniella’s remarks came barely 12 hours after an 18-2 loss to the Pirates, the sixth time since May 29 the Devil Rays have allowed 10 or more runs in a loss. They were outscored 25-4 in the first two games of the interleague series in Pittsburgh and had given up a remarkable 50 runs in their previous four games.

“I’m not going to take responsibility for this,” Piniella said in pregame remarks to reporters. “If I had been given a $40 million or $45 million payroll, I’d stand up like a man and say it’s my fault. Well, I’m not going to do it. So if you want answers about what’s going on here, you call the new ownership group and let them give them to you.”

“When I came here three years ago, we talked about a situation where we wanted to win now and we were interested in winning now,” Piniella said. “And you know what? With a small payroll we [improved] from 55 [victories] to 63 and then to 70. This was supposed to be a breakout year. The problem is we’ve got a new ownership group here that’s changed the direction of where we’re headed.”

If Lou was indeed, misled by ownership, he’s got a right to complain. At the same time, he willingly left behind a competitive club in Seattle, turned down an overture from the Mets and accepted a big bag of cash to manage a rotten team that has to play nearly 60 games each season against the Orioles, Yankees and Red Sox. Would another $10 million make the Devil Rays competitive? Though it probably wouldn’t hurt, their past propensity to squander large sums on the likes of Greg Vaughan, Jose Canseco and Wilson Alvarez should cause Piniella to wonder what Chuck LaMarr would actually do if he had the money. During a period in which Dewon Brazelton has already gone AWOL, there’s something a little distasteful about the manager proclaiming “this isn’t my fault” with 100 games to play.