ST. PETERSBURG — Going heavy on right-handed hitters against Jays righty Shaun Marcum once again proved the right move for the Rays on Wednesday night.
Knowing Marcum has been so tough against left-handers (they were hitting .169 against him entering Wednesday), manager Joe Maddon altered his lineup accordingly, and Tampa Bay beat him for the second time in a week, 10-1 in front of 15,886 at Tropicana Field.
The Rays (majors-best 39-20) have tagged Marcum for 12 runs in the past two meetings, as many as he had given up in his previous eight outings combined.
"They're just an all-around, 1-through-9 good lineup," Marcum said.
"I made some pretty good pitches. They just did a good job of putting the bat on the ball, finding some holes."
There was Kelly Shoppach, in the cleanup spot (for the first time in his career) as designated hitter, picking up his first two RBIs as a Ray and Sean Rodriguez extending his career-long hitting streak to 10 games with three hits and three RBIs.
In all, righties went 9-for-13 against Marcum with seven RBIs while lefties went 1-for-7.
That helped the Rays' big left-hander David Price pick up his American League-leading ninth win, albeit in an odd outing. He gave up just one run and four hits over six innings but recorded a season-high five walks and hit a batter.
Price said he felt good with everything he was throwing. He just couldn't pound the strike zone like he wanted. At age 24, he is still the youngest pitcher to lead either league in wins and ERA on this date since Royals right-hander Bret Saberhagen in 1987.
"That's cool," Price said. "If I can do that all year, I'd be thrilled. But it's a long season."
The Rays offense continued to pile on with the long ball. Dioner Navarro hit his first of the season, a solo shot in the fourth, then gave a glance into the dugout at bench coach Dave Martinez.
"Davey and me had a little game. He said I wasn't going to hit any home runs this year," Navarro said, smiling. "So after I hit that one, I kind of looked at him, and he started laughing."
After a Ben Zobrist homer in the fifth, Carlos Peña followed with one of his own, a 326-footer that got over the small fence near the leftfield foul pole. The homer, Peña's fourth in his past three games, tied him with Aubrey Huff for the club record of 128.
"That's a really cool thing," Peña said. "I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to do that. That's huge to me, means the world to me."
The Rays' past two wins have also been big, outscoring the Jays by a combined 19-1 and pushing them to 61/2 games back in the American League East. Tampa Bay is 18-8 against the East, the best mark in the division.
After not allowing more than one home run in 15 consecutive games, the Blue Jays gave up two on Tuesday and three Wednesday.
"They're a very good offensive club. Their pitching is among the best," Maddon said of Toronto. "We just played two really good games."
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com