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Rays rally to win series opener in Miami

MIAMI — The offense was so lacking that the biggest moments were back-to-back bases-loaded walks. The closer was so erratic he walked four in the ninth inning. The defense was so sloppy manager Joe Maddon issued what amounted to a warning.

The overall night was so ugly, the Rays could only joke about it — and relish the unlikely 6-4 win over the Marlins on Tuesday.

"You know what? Good teams win ugly games," closer Troy Percival said. "You've got to take what you get."

The Rays, now 45-31 and still a game behind Boston, certainly did enough giving before the taking.

A misplay by shortstop Jason Bartlett, after Evan Longoria lost a popup in the twilight, allowed the Marlins to tie in the fourth. And a bad play by outfielders Carl Crawford (who got the error) and B.J. Upton allowed the Marlins to take the lead in the seventh, as both got a glove on ex-Ray Jorge Cantu's base hit to left-center but neither picked it up, allowing Jeremy Hermida to score from first.

Add in a ridiculous eighth inning, when the Rays had the bases loaded with no outs and didn't score until drawing the consecutive two-out walks, and Maddon had seen enough to speak out.

"We did not play well at all tonight," he said. "We did not play well at all. … We had way too many mistakes. If we're going to get to the promised land, we cannot make those kinds of mistakes. We cannot. We have to be more aware in situations. We have to react to situations better.

"Pure and simple, we're not going to beat the Red Sox, and the Yankees as they're coming on, and all these really good teams, if we continue to make these kind of mistakes. They've got to go away. Mistakes of assuming. Mistakes of assumption. Just mistakes (that) have to be eradicated. Mental mistakes."

The lack of offense is shifting from concern to problem, and Tuesday did nothing to make it any better. Akinori Iwamura had a homer, a double and a single that started the eighth-inning rally, but nobody else did much else, at least not until Longoria doubled in two huge insurance runs in the ninth.

Down 3-2 in the eighth, the Rays didn't get another ball out of the infield but went up 4-3. Willy Aybar followed Iwamura's single with a bunt that hugged the third-base line, and Crawford got an infield hit by outrunning late-breaking pitcher Renyel Pinto to first.

Bases loaded, no outs, deeper into the Marlins bullpen, and the Rays couldn't do much of anything. Upton and Longoria — both ahead 3-and-1 in the count — grounded into forceouts at home. Then Dioner Navarro, also up 3-and-1, worked a full-count walk for the tying run. And Eric Hinske, who was up 3-and-0, did the same.

Percival, admitting his left hamstring is still weak and will be an ongoing concern, and relying primarily on changeups as a result, got the first out of the ninth, then walked three in a row (12 balls, five strikes). He got the second out, and gave up a run, when Longoria made a diving stop, then walked another before — finally — getting the final out.

"In the papers it's going to say W, and that's all that matters," Navarro said. "It was ugly, it wasn't nice, but we got the W, and that's the bottom line."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Rays 6

Marlins 4

Rays rally to win series opener in Miami 06/24/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 26, 2008 5:14pm]
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