The Game: The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-2 on Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park. Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist went deep for the Rays with Zobrist finishing a double shy of the cycle in the contest.
The Rays took the lead in the first inning. Carl Crawford drew a walk then later scored on a triple by Zobrist. Carlos Pena followed with a two run homer to give the Rays a 3-0 lead.
Pittsburgh posted their first run in the top of the second inning. Jeff Clement hit a solo home run to pull the Pirates to within two runs of the lead 3-1.
The Rays extended their lead in the third inning. Crawford led off the inning with a double to left. Zobrist cleared the bases with a two run homer to tight. Pat Burrell then drew a walk and later advanced to third on a single by Hank Blalock. Gabe Kapler reached on a fielder choice with Burrell out at the plate. Sean Rodriguez then singled to center scoring Blalock and moving Kapler to second. Alvin Colina drove home Kapler with a single to center to increase the lead 7-1.
The Rays scored their final run of the day in the fourth inning. Crawford doubled to right field then later scored on a sac fly by Burrell to increase the lead. The Pirates would add a run in the ninth but the Rays held on easily for the 8-2 win.
Matt Garza earned the victory, pitching 7 innings and allowing 1 run on 4 hits with 7 strikeouts and a walk. Dan Wheeler pitched a perfect 1/3 of an inning. Grant Balfour threw 2 /3 of an inning allowing 2 hits and striking out 1. Randy Choate pitched the final inning and allowed 1 run on 1 hit.
RP Top Prospect Watch:
Reid Brignac: 1 for 1.
Kyeong Kang: 0 for 1 with a strikeout.
A Look Ahead: The Rays (17-7-1) will take a short road trip to Fort Myers to face the Boston Red Sox (13-13) on Monday night. Jeff Niemann will start for the Rays.