ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays were cruising again Friday, Matt Garza dominating and their hitters slugging in what ended as an easy 7-0 win over Texas, until B.J. Upton coasted — again — running down the first-base line.
Manager Joe Maddon took the extraordinary — and, for Upton, extremely embarrassing — step of waiting until Upton took his position in centerfield in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull him from the game. He said Upton will be benched again tonight and is considering additional disciplinary action.
"I can't make it any more plain, simple, obvious, black and white," Maddon said. "There are no gray areas. I can't have Aki (Iwamura) run like he is and (Carlos) Pena and Cliff (Floyd), who has two bad knees, etc., and permit that. I can't permit it."
Upton, who said he didn't hustle because he mistakenly thought there were two outs, didn't take kindly to how he was removed from the game.
"Obviously it stung a little bit, especially like that," he said. "There ain't much I can say about it. He made the move when he wanted to make the move."
With Garza taking a no-hitter into the sixth and the Rays (74-47) hitting a season-high matching four homers (including three in an inning) while extending their AL East lead to 3½ games over Boston and improving to 6-2 on their seasonlong 10-game road trip, what should have been a night to enjoy was marred by the controversy. Especially since Maddon had benched Upton on Aug. 6 for a similar infraction.
"Joe has my full support," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "I'm confident that the situation will be taken care of and we'll continue to handle it internally. The shame of this is that the emphasis of the night should be on the game Matt pitched."
Garza had a no-hitter until a somewhat-controversial call with two outs in the sixth, and finished with a two-hitter and his third complete-game of the season. He was again dazzling and dominating with his fastball, as much as in his one-hitter against the Marlins in June. "It was fun," Garza said. "I had a blast."
Having allowed only a two-out walk in the first, he ran his string to 15 consecutive batters retired by getting Gerald Laird on a grounder and striking out Ramon Vazquez to open the sixth.
Ian Kinsler hit a liner to shallow right-center, and Justin Ruggiano, who had just replaced Upton, charged in hard, but the ball glanced off his glove. Official scorer John Mocek immediately ruled it a hit, without even waiting for a replay.
"I did not feel it was an 'ordinary effort' play, a routine play," Mocek said. "So I ruled it a base hit. First inning or ninth inning doesn't matter."
Maddon said it was an "inappropriate" call, and for the first time in his three years as manager he called the press box to complain. He said later that 100 out of 100 times either the centerfielder makes that play or is called for an error.
Garza looked unhappy at the time but said it wasn't that big a deal, because the Rays won. And it became somewhat moot — though one could argue the situation might have been different — when Josh Hamilton singled cleanly up the middle to open the seventh.
Garza improved to 10-7, giving the Rays three 10-game winners (joining James Shields and Andy Sonnanstine) for the first time in franchise history.
Maddon said he was too upset — "really upset" — to talk to Upton after the game and would wait until today.
But Upton said they didn't have anything to talk about: "It's an understanding. It's understood. Hopefully it's over with and this is the last time we have to deal with it."
Upton said he didn't feel he was being singled out but that he would obviously have to run out every ball from now on.
"I'm going to have to, or he's going to keep doing it and making me the example," Upton said. "So I guess I can't let him make me the example anymore."
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com.