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Evan Longoria's monster home run a key in Tampa Bay Rays' victory

B.J. Upton, right, offers congratulations after Evan Longoria’s solo home run in the sixth inning gets the Rays within a run at 3-2. It was the third-longest home run in Tropicana Field history.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

B.J. Upton, right, offers congratulations after Evan Longoria’s solo home run in the sixth inning gets the Rays within a run at 3-2. It was the third-longest home run in Tropicana Field history.

ST. PETERSBURG Rays third baseman Evan Longoria recently played an action hero-like role in a national New Er a cap commercial.

Then, on Tuesday, Longoria hit a mammoth home run that had teammates wondering if there was anything he can't do.

Longoria's 473-foot blast in the sixth inning off Orioles right-hander Kevin Millwood was the third-longest homer in Tropicana Field history. Landing in the first row of the upper deck in leftfield, the homer wowed the crowd and grabbed momentum, pulling the Rays to within 3-2 en route to a wild 4-3 victory.

"That was one of the farthest balls I've ever seen hit," right-hander James Shields said. "I think he hit it five rows up in the party deck. That's unbelievable. But it doesn't surprise me, that guy is capable of doing anything. He's the full package, man. I'm glad he's on my team."

It was the second time a batter reached the upper deck in leftfield (without the ball hitting a catwalk); Vinny Castilla did it on April 4, 2001, against the Red Sox with a Tropicana Field-record 478-foot blast. Jonny Gomes hit a 474-foot homer in 2005.

"I'm a big believer in the momentum of the game," catcher Kelly Shoppach said. "And I felt like that big homer was like, 'Phew, take a breath. We're okay.' "

Longoria said he has probably hit balls harder, but this was one of the farthest. The homer came on a high fastball from Millwood, who Longoria said gave Rays hitters trouble with that same pitch earlier in the game. Millwood struck out Longoria with it in his first at-ba t, something the All-Star was thinking about with a 2-and-2 count in the sixth.

"I just didn't want to get off the fastball," Longoria said. "I was telling myself, 'If he throws that one up again, I'm going to get on top of it.' "

Indeed Longoria did. According to hittrackeronli ne.com, the homer came off his bat at about 110 miles per hour and landed 40 feet above the field.

Quipped centerfielder B.J. Upton: "Need you say more?"

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com

Evan Longoria's monster home run a key in Tampa Bay Rays' victory 04/07/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 12:35am]
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