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Tampa Bay Rays thump Florida Marlins 15-2

Dioner Navarro, who drove in Akinori Iwamura with his homer in a six-run second inning, was 4-for-6 with three RBIs.

Associated Press

Dioner Navarro, who drove in Akinori Iwamura with his homer in a six-run second inning, was 4-for-6 with three RBIs.

MIAMI — There were a lot of ways to quantify the Rays' 15-2 interleague victory over the Marlins on Friday night.

One was that their hitters did so well so early that in the six innings starter Andy Sonnan­stine worked, he came to bat five times, going 1-for-4 with a walk, and scored more runs (two) than he allowed (one).

"That," Sonnanstine said, "was a lot of fun."

Another was that the Marlins pitchers were so bad so often that they ditched the first two they used — starter Ricky Nolasco was sent to Triple A after the game, and David Davidson was designated for assignment— and they had INF Ross Gload (a former USF star) to work the ninth as the Rays had 17 hits.

"Great at-bats from the very beginning," manager Joe Maddon said. "Good at-bat after good at-bat. I know their bullpen is a little bit tired (after a Wednesday doubleheader), and that's why it's so important to do what we did … on top of that, to keep them tired. That's how part of this game works: You want to see a bullpen and you want to see a lot them, and that worked to our benefit."

Pretty much everything the Rays did worked, as they got back to .500 again (22-22) and will try tonight to get over it for the first time since they were 4-3 April 13.

By the third inning, all nine Rays starters had at least one hit as they built a 13-0 lead. By the sixth, Nos. 1-3 hitters B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford and Evan Lon­goria were out of the game. By the ninth, Gload was on the hill, the third position player to pitch against the Rays this year.

Carlos Peña hit his American League-leading 15th homer, Dioner Navarro hit his second as part of a four-hit night and Gabe Gross hit his second. Plus, Jason Bartlett extended his hitting streak to eight games though his average fell to .375.

Sonnanstine — who got to bat Sunday after the lineup card gaffe — now has six big-league hits (in 17 at-bats) and a .353 career average. He had a good night on the mound, allowing five hits and no walks in improving to 3-4 and lowering his ERA to 6.60.

After a series of tense games, the Rays enjoyed the fun that came with their sixth straight win at what is now Land Shark Stadium, and by a combined score of 58-16.

WEEKEND IN MIAMI: Neither is likely to stay long, but INF Reid Brignac and RHP Dale Thayer are happy to spend the holiday weekend with the Rays rather than with Triple-A Durham.

Brignac, 23, was called up — rather than OFs Matt Joyce or Justin Ruggiano — to add depth for the NL-rules games and to give Maddon more flexibility in using Ben Zobrist, who had been the only backup shortstop, as an outfielder or pinch-hitter.

Brignac, hitting .291 at Durham, singled in the seventh for his first big-league hit.

Thayer, 28, made his big-league debut and got a save for working three innings after six-plus years in the minors. He had six saves and a 0.93 ERA in 16 appearances for the Bulls.

"This stay may be short term, but we want to get his feet wet and get him a little bit of exposure to the major leagues for the next time when we may need him for a more extended period of time," executive VP Andrew Friedman said.

Thayer's stay likely will end Sunday so the Rays have room to add David Price for Monday's start. Brignac may stick around until DH Pat Burrell (neck strain) returns next week.

MISCELLANY: Maddon's new three-year deal may be formally announced today. … Hockey great Gordie Howe threw out the first pitch. … The 15 runs matched the season high.

Tampa Bay Rays thump Florida Marlins 15-2 05/22/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 23, 2009 6:21am]

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