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News » Rays show spark again, cruise against Athletics

Rays show spark again, cruise against Athletics

Rays show spark again, cruise against Athletics
By Marc Topkin

Times Staff Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. - The Rays do have it in them.

They showed it when they piled up 26 runs in back-to-back wins over the Orioles and Yankees. They showed it when they scored nine Wednesday night in Seattle.

And they showed it again Friday night, when they busted out early and coasted to an 8-2 win over the A's.

Now they have to show they can sustain it over an extended period and score enough consistently to start winning games (they're now 7-10), and series (they've lost four straight), on a more regular basis.

quot;We did a lot of good things,quot; manager Joe Maddon said. quot;We were better. The at-bats were good. A lot of guys are starting to look more like they're supposed to look.quot;

Friday was another glimpse of what they think they are capable of offensively, plus a strong start by Scott Kazmir and another, by now almost nightly, highlight-clip catch by centerfielder B.J. Upton.

Carlos Pe?a led the way with a pair of home runs, giving him a major-league-most eight through 17 games.

quot;We try to draw some confidence from games like this,quot; Pe?a said. quot;Hopefully we get on a nice little winning track.quot;

Gabe Gross showed his swing was indeed on the right path as Maddon said it was in starting him over Ben Zobrist against rookie Trevor Cahill, with his first two extra-base hits of the season, a second-inning homer and a double.

Jason Bartlett had four hits from the bottom of the order, and Upton and Carl Crawford were on base five times at the top.

The Rays played hungry, which they were after an edict from their home office to limit unhealthy food choices on the road as well. And they were hot (13 hits), impressive since it was another cold night, with a first-pitch temperature of 54 degrees.

Kazmir did his part to help, overcoming a bit of a shaky beginning to work six shutout innings, improving to 3-1 and eliminating any concerns from his previous rough outing. He allowed only two singles while walking three, allowing the leadoff man to reach in each of the first three innings but none to score, and retired his final 11.

A day after being held to four singles in a 1-0 loss at Seattle, the Rays came out hitting and took advantage of the inexperienced Cahill, a 21-year-old right-hander making his fourth big-league start after splitting last season between Class A and Double A.

The Rays scored one in the first, when Upton walked and Crawford doubled; one in the second, when Gross led off with a homer; and five in the third to break it open.

Pe?a's three-run homer was the big blast, but it was a team effort as the Rays sent 11 to the plate. Crawford walked and Evan Longoria doubled ahead of Pe?a's homer, then with two outs they rapped four consecutive hits, Dioner Navarro singling in Gross, and Akinori Iwamura doubling in Navarro and ending Cahill's miserable night.

The Rays added another in the sixth when Pe?a led off with another homer, the 14th multi-homer game of his career.

The Rays started the season in a bit of a funk, especially offensively. They came to Oakland having lost seven of their last nine, and scoring three or fewer runs in all seven losses. And they'd dropped four consecutive series, after not losing any more than two straight all of last season.

quot;We just have not been able to hit through some our misgivings to this point,quot; Maddon said before game. quot;We've had some good pitching performances, we've played some great defense, we've run the bases well. But we've lost a lot of close games because we just haven't been able to get that hit when it's necessary.quot;

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 25, 2009

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