By MARC TOPKIN
Times Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Matt Garza was looking for some retribution. Pat Burrell just wanted to make a contribution, even if he was playing against his old team.
And between the two of them, the Rays made a transformation, following Tuesday's dreadful loss with a crisp 7-1 victory over the Phillies to even the World Series rematch at a game apiece.
Burrell, the ex-Phillie, gave the Rays the lead with a two-run homer in the second, and knocked in the first of their five eighth-inning runs with a fielder's choice grounder.
Garza snapped a six-game winless streak with a dominant outing, allowing just three hits over eight innings.
The win improved the Rays to 38-35, and saw Jason Bartlett extend his hitting streak to a team-record tying 18 games, but it did come with a bit of a loss, as third baseman Evan Longoria left after seven innings for what the Rays said were precautionary reasons after feeling slight soreness in his left hamstring. He missed six starts earlier this month due to tightness in the hamstring.
And despite all the talk around the Tampa Bay area generated by team president Matt Silverman's public disappointment over Tuesday's attendance, Wednesday's crowd at Tropicana Field was actually smaller, an announced 18,862.
Garza, frustrated by a six-start winless streak and candid about wanting payback against the Phillies from the Series, was tough from the start. He allowed only one baserunner in the first three innings (hitting Chase Utley), and didn't give up his first hit until Greg Dobbs singled to open the fifth.
In between, he did some of his worst and best work. Garza opened the fourth by walking the bases loaded, then got the ground ball he needed to get out of it from Jayson Werth, as Evan Longoria gloved it and started a 5-2-3 double play. Garza then struck out Matt Stairs.
His only other brush with trouble came in the seventh, when he allowed a one-out homer to Werth and immediately got behind Stairs and allowed a single.
Garza threw 117 pitches, walking three and striking out seven. He hadn't won since May 16.
But unlike other games, such as his last one, Garza kept things from getting worse. He retired Greg Dobbs on a fly to right and got Pedro Feliz to ground into a forceout.
Burrell's homer was just his second of the season (first since April 13) and his sixth extra-base hit. He hit 251 over nine seasons for the Phillies, but has struggled since signing a two-year, $16-million contract with the Rays, having to adjust to the DH role and also missing five weeks with a neck strain.
Burrell downplayed the reunion, saying that much of the emotion was taken away by previous meeting this season, as he saw the Phillies during spring training, two April exhibitions in Philadelphia and during his return for the Series championship ring ceremony.
More than showing the Phillies anything, he said he wanted to show the Rays that he could be a productive member of their lineup.
The Rays took the 2-1 lead into the eighth and built on it from there, scoring once on Burrell's ground out (as Ben Zobrist beat the force out), and twice on hits by Bartlett, a blooper to rightfield that allowed him to tie Quinton McCracken's mark from the 1998 inaugural season, and Gabe Gross, who doubled down the rightfield line.
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com.