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Rays reclaim first place, take 2 of 3 from Pirates

The Rays jumped ahead of the Red Sox Sunday afternoon to take control of first place in the division going into the big showdown at the Trop starting Monday night on ESPN. The Rays took 2 of 3 from the Pittsburgh Pirates and looked good in doing it. Only an extra inning walkoff kept the Rays from sweeping the series.

Tampa Bay Rays hats The Rays (48-31) looked good in the first game of the series knocking off the Pirates 10-5. AL Player of the Week Evan Longoria continued to impress by clubbing a three run shot to give the Rays the early lead 3-0. Longoria had four hits including his home run and he drove in three to lead Tampa Bay. The Rays jumped to a 7-0 lead for ace Scott Kazmir (7-3) before Freddy Sanchez belted a solo home run in the fourth. Kazmir went five innings giving up three earned and striking out five in getting his seventh win of the year. Eric Hinske and Carl Crawford both connected for the Rays as well. Triple A call up J. Barth Meier (0-1) got lit up in his first start as he went two and a third giving up seven earned for the Pirates (37-42). Carlos Pena was back in the lineup for the Rays, he went 0-3 with a walk and an RBI.

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In the second game of the series, the Rays (48-32) and Pirates (38-42) battled into the night. The game went into extras and did not end until Jason Bay hit a walk off blast to left center to win it for the Pirates 4-3 in 13. The loss snapped the Rays 4 game win streak. After the Pirates took the lead 3-2, Jonny Gomes came up off the bench in the top of the eighth inning and smacked a solo shot to tie it at 3. Edwin Jackson had a solid start for the Rays tossing six and two thirds innings while giving up three earned and striking out a couple. Another triple a call up for the Pirates on this night, but this one actually kept the Rays bats fairly silent. Ty Taubenheim pitched seven innings only giving up two earned and was in line for the win before Gomes’ homer. Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford had only one hit a piece for the Rays. Xavier Nady came back to the lineup and had two hits for the Pirates.

In the finale we had another solid pitching match up between Pirates (38-43) regular Tom Gorzellany and Andy Sonnanstine for the Rays (49-32). Sonnanstine (9-3) got the win for the Rays tossing seven innings of one run ball and striking out four. Gorzellany had a quality start by throwing six innings and giving up two earned runs while striking out eight for the Pirates, but he settled for a no decision. Shawn Riggans had three hits for the Rays including a home run and Aybar also homered for the Rays. Jack Wilson had two hits to lead the Pirates in this uneventful game Sunday afternoon.

The series everyone has been waiting for is upon us, well not really but Rays-Red Sox is big news now. The battle for the AL East heats up again Monday night as the Red Sox are in town to battle the Rays. Ever since the brawl earlier in the season, these teams have been dying to see each other and they will see each other for three games starting Monday night on ESPN. The pitching probables are as follows:

  • J. Masterson (4-1) 3.43 ERA vs. J. Shields (5-5) 3.76 ERA
  • T. Wakefield (5-5) 3.88 ERA vs. M. Garza (6-4) 3.76 ERA
  • D. Matsuzaka (9-1) 3.21 ERA vs. S. Kazmir (7-3) 2.28 ERA


By Andrew Nuscis
Philadelphia Phillies & Tampa Bay Rays Correspondent

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