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Tampa Bay Rays rout Colorado Rockies

DENVER — The hottest team in baseball is now your Tampa Bay Rays.

And the way the title changed hands Tuesday, it wasn't even close.

The Rays extended their winning streak to six games by ending the Rockies' record run at 11 games with a 12-4 bashing.

"I found out before the game that they were as hot as they are, or were,'' said Ben Zobrist. "So it's definitely nice to know that we're keeping our streak going.''

Offense has been toned down at Coors Field since the Rockies started putting the baseballs in a humidor in 2002. But the Rays played like it was set up the old way, blasting balls all over and out of the yard, rapping a team-record 12 extra-base hits, including five home runs.

The first home run was most telling of what was to come, as Evan Longoria broke his bat and still hit the ball over the wall.

"I don't know, this place is a great place to hit obviously,'' Longoria said. "I didn't think that it didn't have a chance to go right off the bat, but I knew my bat was broken. I guess once it got up in the air it just went.''

And once the other Rays saw that, they all started swinging. "I think that gave everybody a little bit of confidence going up there to hack,'' Ben Zobrist said.

By the end of the night, Carlos Peña had his American League-leading 21st homer of the season. Former Rockie Gabe Kapler had his fourth in his last four games (after hitting none in his first 34). Zobrist had his sixth in his last 13 games and 14th overall. B.J. Upton had one. And Longoria got to show off in front of his former Long Beach State roommate and teammate, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

Kapler and Zobrist each had a chance to be the first Ray to hit for the cycle — Kapler had a triple, homer and single, but was removed during a double-switch in the seventh. Zobrist also needed just a double, but grounded back to the mound in the eighth.

The Rockies' 11-game winning streak, which matched the Red Sox for longest in the majors this season and tied the team record, was built mostly on strong starting pitching. The Rays didn't need long to change that, chasing lefty Jorge De La Rosa in the third.

"I know they've been playing at a very high level; it's hard to sustain that for a real long period,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That's something that's just going to happen. We had good at-bats tonight.''

Jeff Niemann, whom the Rays kept at the end of spring training and traded Jason Hammel to the Rockies, worked five innings for his team-leading sixth win.

"Oh boy, that was a fun win right there,'' said Zobrist. "A complete team effort there. That was probably one of our best wins of the year.''

The Rays are 35-31 overall, the first time they've been four games over .500 this season, and five games behind first-place Boston. Their six-game streak is the longest current streak in the majors. Since returning from Cleveland on a five-game losing streak to face Minnesota May 29, they have a 13-4 record that is the best in the majors. The Rockies are 13-5 over that span.

"We've been playing pretty well of late,'' Maddon said. "We normally work good at-bats. We see a lot of pitches. Getting Jason Bartlett back in the lineup is very big for us also.''

Rays 12

Rockies 4

Tampa Bay Rays rout Colorado Rockies 06/17/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 2:26am]
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