Final Score: Tampa Bay 10, Texas 1
St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria each had three hits and drove in three to back a strong start by Matt Garza, as the Rays routed the Rangers, 10-1, in the middle contest of a three-game set.
Crawford finished a double shy of the cycle, slamming a two-run homer, while Longoria had a double and triple. The Rays totaled 15 hits, seven for extra bases.
It was plenty of support for Garza (12-7), who struck out a season-high 10 over seven shutout innings. The right-hander allowed five hits and walked two for the Rays, who have won four in a row and remained tied with the Yankees atop the AL East. New York beat Detroit on Tuesday.
Tommy Hunter (9-2) gave up four runs in three-plus innings and took the loss for the AL West-leading Rangers, who have lost six of nine.
Hunter threw only 52 of his 83 pitches for strikes, and the Rays took advantage of his location struggles and deep counts in the first inning. With one away, Hunter walked Ben Zobrist on four pitches, missing both high and low. A passed ball allowed Zobrist to move to second before Hunter and Crawford engaged in a nine-pitch at-bat that ended with Crawford ripping an outside curve to right field. Vladimir Guerrero couldn’t make the catch near the wall, allowing Zobrist to score and Crawford to reach third.
Longoria followed by crushing a first-pitch fastball to the left-center field gap, and he raced around to third as the Rays took a 2-0 lead. Carlos Pena came up next and, on the eighth pitch of that at-bat, pulled an inside cutter down the right field line for a double.
The score remained 3-0 until the bottom of the fourth, when the Rays capitalized on a few odd plays to add two more runs. With Jason Bartlett on first after a leadoff single and Matt Harrison on the mound, John Jaso attempted a bunt, but had the ball pop into the air on the right side. Bartlett paused on the basepath to make sure the ball would fall, but collided with Rangers second baseman Andres Blanco once he resumed running.
Both runners were safe, and Harrison nearly got out of the inning after retiring the next two batters. But when Longoria hit a ball to shallow center, Julio Borbon had the ball carom off his glove as he attempted a diving catch. Bartlett and Jaso scored to make it a 5-0 game.
Garza continued to shut down Texas, finishing his outing by working a 1-2-3 seventh, and Tampa Bay blew the game wide open in the bottom half. With Pedro Strop pitching, B.J. Upton doubled with one out and scored on Bartlett’s single. Later in the inning, Zobrist hit a two-run single and Crawford followed with a two-run homer down the right field line.
David Murphy’s RBI single in the eighth provided the Rangers’ lone run.
Crawford’s triple is the 100th of his career. He is Major League Baseball’s active leader in that category…Garza snapped a two-start losing streak. The win is the 12th of the season, a career high…Upton hit two doubles for the Rays…Hunter also gave up four runs in three innings in his last outing, Friday against Boston.