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Rays Power Themselves To Victory; Matt Garza Tosses 8 Strong Innings

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After B.J. Upton's leadoff home run, things were looking up. After Oscar Salazar's (yes, Oscar Salazar) two-run home run put the Padres up 3-1 in the second inning, things were looking, well, normal. Not only have the Rays had few leads recently, but when they get the lead or tie, the team's pitcher has promptly handed it back to the other team.

Garza would give up the initial lead, but hold on late in what was a bounce back effort for the Rays' right-hander. The disaster that was Garza's last start: 1.1 IP, 7 R, 71 pitches has been well documented. That said, Garza was very good today - tossing eight strong innings and allowing just the three runs. In fact, he retired 19 of the final 21 batters he faced.

Garza used 108 pitches to complete the eight innings; a far cry from his Atlanta performance. The Padres were fed a steady diet of 93-95 mph fastballs - a pitch Garza threw 84 times, 57 for strikes. Garza did not have much swing and miss stuff, but did register five strikeouts and no walks.

For all his efforts, Garza was rewarded with a tongue lashing on the mound by manager Joe Maddon. While Garza took the beating it was not intended for him. Unable to argue another balk call with umpire Gary Cederstrom, Maddon simply voiced his opinion about the call from the mound loud enough for the umpire to hear. After a few moments, the manager and ump locked horns leading to Maddon's ejection. Joe is mad, and he's not gonna take it.

Back to the game...

B.J. Upton jumpstarted the Rays offense for a second straight day (fingers crossed), however, he got help from his teammates. The Rays had 12 hits total including three a piece from Evan Longoria and Kelly Shoppach. Longoria went 3-4 with three singles, the first on a bunt. His lone out came on an 11-pitch strikeout.

For Shoppach, it was a coming out party as he went 3-3 against left-handed Wade Leblanc - including a double and his first home run as a Ray. Shoppach's homer would give the Rays a 4-3 lead. In the seventh, Carlos Pena added a solo shot of his own to push the score to 5-3.

Once again, the Rays offense had multiple scoring chances early on, but failed to get the man in. The squad went 1-12 with runners in scoring position, however, Willy Aybar made sure that one hit counted. Aybar's two-run  single in the fifth plated two runs, tying the game at 3-3. Overall, it was another pretty frustrating performance, but five runs were enough on this afternoon.

Tampa Bay played most of the game without All-Star left fielder Carl Crawford. CC exited the game early with shoulder soreness. CC showed visible discomfort throwing the ball back on a Will Venable single in the second inning. After the game, Crawford explained he first injured the arm trying to throw a runner out at the plate in last night's contest. He is listed as day-to-day. Of course losing CC for any amount of time hurts, but this may have been tipping point for the Matt Joyce call up.

With the Yankees idle, the Rays pick up a half game in the standings. The club will welcome Edwin Jackson and the Arizona Diamondbacks for the weekend. Yeah; winning is better than losing.