Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays hitting on more cylinders, rout Pirates 10-5

PITTSBURGH — Throughout the Rays' remarkable run, many of manager Joe Maddon's moves have turned to gold.

Whether it was a pinch-hitter or pitching switch, his hunches have produced dividends.

On Friday, it happened again.

Carlos Pena was activated from the disabled list (broken left index finger), but Maddon decided to ease him into the lineup by dropping the left-handed slugger from cleanup to sixth in the order.

Eric Hinske and Evan Longoria stayed in their four and five spots, and each delivered a three-run homer in the Rays' 10-5 win over the Pirates in front of 19,970 at PNC Park.

Hinske and Longoria were a combined 6-for-8 with six runs scored and six RBIs, and the Rays (48-31) moved to a franchise-best 17 games over .500, having won four in a row and 10 of 13. In doing so, Tampa Bay stayed just a half-game behind the AL East-leading Red Sox with a three-game series looming Monday.

"When we do what we can do as an offense," Longoria said, "it's something pretty special."

What has been special for the Rays recently is their offensive resurgence. Getting their bats to click had become a concern in recent weeks. But after scoring 27 runs in their three-game sweep of the Marlins, the lineup is starting to hit its stride.

"(We're) working good at-bats, the past couple days in particular," Maddon said. "We're starting to spread it around a little bit. We've been just waiting for different guys to just catch on fire."

One of the Rays' hottest hitters has been Longoria, whose third homer in as many days gave him a team-high 15 on the season. The rookie leads the Rays in RBIs (46) and doubles (20).

"Sometimes you just find that stride," Longoria said. "I've been feeling really comfortable at the plate, really confident, and (I'm) just trying to ride it out. You never know when it will come and go."

After weeks of facing a gauntlet of top pitchers, the Rays feasted on Jimmy Barthmaier, who gave up seven runs in 21/3 innings in his big-league debut. The 24-year-old hadn't made a start above Double A until last month, and Tampa Bay broke him in with big blasts by Longoria in the first and Hinske in the third. Carl Crawford added a homer of his own in the sixth. The Rays' first five hitters combined for 13 of their 15 hits.

"If you get a couple of hitters heating up as a group in the middle of the lineup, it helps a lot, and it looks like it's turning in that direction," Maddon said.

The large, early lead gave Scott Kazmir (7-3) a boost. The ace didn't have his best stuff, specifically his slider and changeup, but battled through five innings. Kazmir carried a no-hitter into the fourth when things unraveled a bit. Like Matt Garza's no-hit bid the day before, Kazmir's was ended by a solo homer (Freddy Sanchez). Chris Gomez (RBI single) and Jack Wilson (two-run single) knocked in runs. But Kazmir, who had been winless in his past three starts, grinded it out.

"I was having trouble with my offspeed (pitches)," said Kazmir, who threw 103 pitches. "Everything felt good in the early innings, but I couldn't sit down anybody. I felt like my slider was a little lazy."

Rays 10

Pirates 5

Rays hitting on more cylinders, rout Pirates 10-5 06/27/08 [Last modified: Saturday, June 28, 2008 8:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NFL Week 7: What we learned


    Are the Purple People Eaters back in Minnesota? The Vikings sacked Joe Flacco five times and held the Ravens to 208 total yards in a 24-16 home victory, their third straight win. QB Case Keenum looked ordinary with a 67.7 passer rating after completing 20-of-31 for 188 yards and an interception. Kai Forbath …

    Trainers, top, check Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas after Thomas was hurt in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane) OHTD122
  2. Bills' comeback against Bucs a win for the process


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It hasn't taken Sean McDermott long to understand how to play to his base. Asked if the Bills had "gotten away with one" Sunday, the first-year coach gushed about his team reflecting the character of the town.

    Under first-year coach Sean McDermott, the Bills are 3-0 at home for the first time in six years. “I love playing here,” he says.
  3. No. 18 UCF closes in on USF, which drops to No. 17


    USF remained ahead of UCF in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday — just barely.

  4. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  5. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]