CHICAGO — The way Wednesday's rematch with the White Sox's Mark Buehrle began, with the first three Rays striking out, it looked as if there might be a sequel to his July perfect game against them.
"After the first three batters went down swinging, I'm sure he was thinking the same thing we were," Evan Longoria said.
But this turned into a story of revenge. The Rays blooped, then battered Buehrle early and often to knock him out in the fifth, rookie Wade Davis delivered a strong performance, and they rolled to a 12-0 win.
"I'm still trying to figure out what happened," Buehrle said.
It was a good day all-around for the Rays, who extended their franchise-best start to 11-4 and matched their best road trip in franchise history at 8-1, with the finale of their seasonlong 10-game, 11-day journey tonight.
They hit well, benefiting from what manager Joe Maddon acknowledged was a "much better approach" than in Tuesday's loss by going the opposite way with "softies." They posted a season high in runs and matched their mark in hits (13) and walks (eight), along with their biggest inning, a six-run sixth.
"(Buehrle) was making pitches, he was breaking bats. We just happened to be hitting them in the spots where they weren't," Longoria said. "We didn't really get too greedy at the plate. We just kind of took what he gave us."
The Rays pitched well. Davis allowed two singles over six sizzling innings on a cold Chicago night (first-pitch temperature was 39 degrees), and Mike Ekstrom and Andy Sonnanstine finished the job, combining on a four-hit shutout.
Davis got off to a rough start. He got stuck in the bullpen, as he didn't finish his bullpen work in time to get back to the dugout before the game started. Then he allowed a bloop-bunt single to Chicago leadoff man Juan Pierre and two walks in the first and another walk to open the second.
But from there he didn't allow much else, retiring the next 12 before another Pierre single to lead off the sixth. "I was a little jumpy early, trying to throw the ball through a brick wall instead of just settling down," Davis said.
Davis, a Florida boy from Lake Wales but a big fan of pitching in cold weather, said he welcomed the challenge of pitching against Buehrle, as he did in facing the Yankees' CC Sabathia and the Red Sox's Josh Beckett in his first two starts.
"I want to be in that position someday," he said.
And the Rays managed well. Maddon, despite more issues with the umpires, made another of his odd-but-golden moves, sitting slumping Ben Zobrist (hitting .228) to start even colder Sean Rodriguez (.160). Rodriguez responded with a career-best three-hit, four-RBI night, with a single, a double and a homer, and had his right hand bruised when stepped on by first baseman Paul Konerko. Longoria and Jason Bartlett also had three hits.
Maddon insists Rodriguez, who hit .460 in spring training, can do this kind of thing more often.
"It's all confidence," Maddon said. "Once he gains his confidence here, he's going to play a lot like what you saw in spring training. I have a lot of faith in his abilities, his skill, his work ethic. All those things are high end. He just needs some success here, and then he really gets that feeling of belonging, and then heads up."
Said Rodriguez: "It's always good to contribute to a win."