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Tampa Bay Rays' Reid Brignac gets first extra-base hit of season

CLEVELAND — So how good did SS Reid Brignac's first extra-base hit of the season feel?

Good enough that after slicing the two-run double to left he didn't know to run hard.

"He kept his head down so well he didn't know where the ball was," manager Joe Maddon said. "We had to yell, 'Run, Forrest, run.' And then he finally took off."

The first six weeks of Brignac's first season as the everyday shortstop hasn't gone well, and the distinction of being the only player in the majors with at least 50 plate appearances who didn't have an extra-base hit, along with a .183 average, hadn't helped. Going back to a double in September, he had gone a team-record 104 at-bats and 35 games without an extra-base hit (both marks held by the shortstop he replaced, Jason Bartlett), though he said he wasn't aware of the specifics.

"When I'm going good I don't want to know my stats, and when I'm going bad I don't want to know 'em," Brignac said. "I just know they weren't good."

Brignac, the smile returning for the first time in a while, said he has learned from his struggles.

"I've got some tougher skin now," he said. "And I know how it feels to be at the bottom and have to work your way back up to what you expect out of yourself and what your teammates and coaches expect out of you as well."

ORLANDO'S HIT KING: With two hits, DH Johnny Damon tied Sanford's Tim Raines (and Hall of Famer Rabbit Maranville) for 73rd place on the all-time hit list with 2,605. Damon is excited to pass Raines, whom he considers the hit king of all players who grew up in the Orlando area.

But since Damon already has a key to the city from winning the 2004 World Series, he said it's up to home clubhouse equipment manager Chris Westmoreland to provide the proper souvenir.

"I get a nice ball and a plaque that Westy is going to make up for me," he said.

QUICK WORK: RHP Joel Peralta used his "quick pitch" delivery to get C Carlos Santana looking at strike three, and then looking at umpire John Tumpane, to end the eighth.

Peralta started doing it last season with Washington and has employed it several times this season, including one that left White Sox 1B Paul Konerko grumbling. "It's been working, so I'll keep doing it," he said.

Added Maddon: "One of those products of winter ball that I love."

UPTON DOWN: CF B.J. Upton said he felt kind of odd watching the win on TV in his hotel room as he served the first of his two-game suspension stemming from his May 4 ejection. "I didn't really know what to do with myself," he said. "But I watched a good baseball game."

Sam Fuld played center in his absence Thursday and is set to do so again tonight, with Matt Joyce in left and Ben Zobrist in right.

J.P. DUTY: LHP J.P. Howell made the second of back-to-back appearances for Triple-A Durham on Thursday, the last significant test in his rehab from May 2010 shoulder surgery. He lasted two-thirds of an inning, giving up four unearned runs on three hits with one strikeout. Before the outing, he was slated to pitch for the Bulls on Monday and rejoin the Rays on Wednesday or Thursday.

PRICE CHECK: LHP David Price had his right wrist wrapped but said there was no residual issues from being struck by a line drive Wednesday. "He said he's fine," Maddon said. "I think he's just doing that to draw attention to himself."

MISCELLANY: Joyce went 1-for-3 to maintain his average at .358 and hung on to the AL batting lead for a third straight day. … The Rays' 13-5 road record is best in the majors. … RHP James Shields got his first win in seven tries over the Indians, the lone AL team he hadn't beaten. … Before tonight's game, the Rays will "retire" the radio call signs of slain St. Petersburg police officers Thomas Baitinger, David Crawford and Jeffrey Yaslowitz. … Instant replay was used to uphold the call that Asdrubal Cabrera's eighth-inning shot to right was a triple and not a homer. … As a staff, the Rays have made eight pickoffs, two more than last season's total.

Tampa Bay Rays' Reid Brignac gets first extra-base hit of season 05/12/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 12, 2011 11:08pm]
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