The Game: The Tampa Bay Rays saw their winning streak ended at nine games after falling to the Florida Marlins 8-5 on Saturday at Charlotte Sports Park. BJ Upton found the power he was missing this spring, going deep twice in the contest.
The Marlins broke the scoreless tie in the top of the second inning. Jorge Cantu struck a double to lead of the inning. Ronny Paulino then drove home Cantu on an RBI single to center to give the Marlins a 1-0 lead.
The Rays tied the game in the fourth inning on a solo home run by BJ Upton, his first of the spring.
Florida regained the lead in the fifth inning. Brett Carroll homered to right field to take the lead. Then in the sixth inning Cantu drove home Brian Barden to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead.
But the Rays wasted no time in tying the game. Upton went deep again, this time with Ben Zobrist on the bases to tie the game 3-3.
The Marlins retook the lead by posting a four run seventh inning. Gaby Sanchez singled to center with one out to get the inning going. Sanchez then advanced to third on a double by Paulino. Carroll was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Chris Coghlan drove home the first run with an RBI single to left field to score Sanchez and keep the bases loaded. Then Barden plated three runs with a double to left, giving the Marlins a 7-3 lead.
Tampa Bay added another run in the bottom of the seventh. Willy Aybar drove home a run with a ground ball to first, scoring Gabe Kapler. Rays trailed 7-4.
Both clubs exchanged home runs in the ninth inning. Scott Cousins went deep in the top of the inning for Florida and it was Aybar hitting the Rays homer in the bottom of the inning. The Marlins held on to take the 8-5 win.
Matt Garza got the start for Tampa Bay, pitching 5 innings and allowing 2 runs on 3 hits with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks in the no decision. Joaquin Benoit followed and gave up 1 run on 2 hits with a strikeout in 1 inning worked. Grant Balfour suffered the loss, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits with a walk in 2/3 inning. Dale Thayer pitched 1/3 of an inning to get Balfour out of the seventh. Randy Choate pitched a no hit inning with 1 walk. Lance Cormier completed the game by surrendering 1 run on 1 hit with 2 strikeouts in an inning pitched.
RP Top Prospect Watch:
Reid Brignac: 0 for 2.
A Look Ahead: The Rays (9-2) travel to Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland to take on the Detroit Tigers (5-6) on Sunday. Jeff Niemann will get the start followed by Jeff Bennett, Richard De Los Santos, Mike Ekstrom and Heath Rollins.