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Rays 7, Indians 5

Tampa Bay Rays top Cleveland Indians in one messed-up win

ST. PETERSBURG —Sunday's game would have been eventful enough, the Rays rallying for a 7-5 victory for their second three-game winning streak.

But that was after the manager screwed up the lineup card and the Rays had to play without the DH, the first AL team to do so in more than 30 years, forcing major-league RBI leader Evan Longoria to the bench and pitcher Andy Sonnanstine into the No. 3 spot in his place.

And after some remarkably good breaks for the Rays, including a bad call on an eighth-inning fly ball that everyone but the umpires saw hit the wall before Carl Crawford caught it.

And after a testy eighth-inning exchange when the Indians brought in closer Kerry Wood to throw behind and at B.J. Upton, avenging stolen bases in Thursday's blowout, drawing barbs from both clubhouses with a rematch in Cleveland next week.

"We got through it and we got a win," Upton said. "And that's all that matters."

It was, almost all agreed, one of the wackier games you'll see.

"A little bit of everything," Crawford said. "Just one of those games where if you were watching on TV you'd be happy with all the entertainment you were getting."

The Rays have put on a good show lately, roaring back from a 7-0 deficit Friday to win three straight, eight of 12 and 11 of 17. They're 19-20 with a chance tonight to get to .500 for the first time since being 4-4 on April 14.

And to think it all started when Rays manager Joe Maddon signed and submitted a lineup card that had Longoria, who was supposed to DH, and Ben Zobrist playing third.

The Indians waited until Zobrist played the field in the top of the first and brought it to umpires' attention, who huddled for more than 10 minutes,.

Because Zobrist was in the lineup, Longoria couldn't be. And the Rays would be the first AL team, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, to start a game without a DH since Sept. 23, 1976, when pitcher Ken Brett batted eighth for the White Sox.

What was a disappointment to Longoria — "Just awkward to say the least," he said — was an exciting opportunity to Sonnanstine, who considers himself a good hitter (not just for a pitcher) with a career .385 average (5-for-13).

"(Pitching coach Jim Hickey) came down and told me I was going to have to hit, and I corrected him and I told him, 'I get to hit,' " Sonnanstine said.

His pitching has been a problem, and it wasn't much better Sunday as he allowed five runs.

But down 3-2, the Rays rallied for five in the fourth against MLB-debuting starter David Huff. Jason Bartlett singled in one, and light-hitting backup catcher Michel Hernandez doubled in three. Then Sonnanstine, who bunted too hard and struck out his first two times up, stepped up, swinging left-handed, and laced a double over the leftfielder's head to make it 7-3 and crack up the Rays' dugout.

"I was just laughing," said Lon­goria, who entered the game in the sixth in a double switch, another Tropicana Field first.

The Rays hung on with some more terrific work from the bullpen as Grant Balfour, J.P. Howell and Troy Percival combined for 31/3 scoreless innings.

But the fun ended in the eighth when the Indians curiously brought in Wood to face Upton with two out and one on.

They were upset, Maddon accused and catcher Victor Martinez admitted, because Upton stole two bases in the sixth inning Thursday with the Indians up 9-0. "If you're going to get respect, show respect," Martinez said.

The Rays said such old-school rules don't apply, pointing to the six-run rally that followed, and the accrued benefit of wear on the Cleveland bullpen. "I was taught to play the game," Upton said.

Wood's first pitch was behind Upton, his second was at him. Maddon barked at Martinez, Martinez yelled back, Crawford bowed up in the on-deck circle, Wood yapped from the mound, and both benches emptied.

It was, Upton said, a show of team unity. "That's our thing," he said. "Last year we had the incident with Boston that brought us closer together."

There was more drama in the ninth Percival hit leadoff man Mark DeRosa, but the umpires ruled it unintentional. "Good umpiring," Maddon said.

A very strange day turned out to be a very good one.

"Perseverance," Maddon said, "is a pretty good word around here."

Tampa Bay Rays top Cleveland Indians in one messed-up win 05/17/09 [Last modified: Monday, May 18, 2009 9:50am]
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