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Devil Rays' Kazmir wins fifth in a row, four-hits Marlins

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Scott Kazmir kept the Florida Marlins guessing all day long.

"He had it all going on," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said Sunday. "Fastball, slider, changeup. Both sides of the plate, up and down."

Kazmir allowed four hits and matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts in eight innings, helping the Devil Rays beat Dontrelle Willis and the punchless Marlins 3-0 for the young left-hander's fifth consecutive win.

At 22, Kazmir is the youngest major league pitcher to win seven games this early in a season since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

"He's got great stuff, and he knows how to pitch. He's proved that," Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been on a roll. I think he took a few lumps the first half of the season last year. Since then, he's been as good as anyone in baseball."

Kazmir (7-2) shares the major league lead in wins. He held the Marlins to three singles and Miguel Cabrera's fourth-inning double while limiting an opponent to one or fewer earned runs for the fifth consecutive start.

The lefty walked one and hit a batter before departing after 119 pitches. Tyler Walker worked the ninth for his eighth save in nine opportunities.

"I felt in a groove the whole game," said Kazmir, who didn't get his first win last season until May 19.

"This is the best I've felt, by far, definitely. I'm a whole new pitcher. I'm more comfortable with all of my pitches."

Jonny Gomes keyed a three-run fifth inning with a RBI triple off Willis (1-5), who allowed eight hits in his first complete game of the season.

Ty Wigginton and Greg Norton also drove runs in the fifth for the Devil Rays, who swept the weekend series and have won a season-high four games in a row.

The Marlins have lost seven in a row, their longest skid since losing eight in a row from July 7-18, 2002.

Willis worked out of jams with runners in scoring position in the first, second and third innings, but couldn't wiggle off the hook after giving up a one-out single to Julio Lugo in the fifth.

Gomes broke the scoreless tie with his triple to right-center, then trotted home on Wigginton's RBI single for a 2-0 lead. Norton finished the inning with a run-scoring single that gave Kazmir added insurance.

"You could see when he got the lead that he turned it up. To me, that's the mark of an ace and a winner," Girardi said.

"He's got three out pitches. Whenever you have a starting pitcher with three out pitches, they're dangerous. They're going to rack up strikeouts and they're going to go deep into games. You don't get the same look at them."

Willis, who led the majors last season with 22 victories, has gone seven consecutive starts without a win. It's the longest such stretch of his career, and the Marlins are 0-6 in games he's started on the road.

The Florida left-hander walked three and struck out three in his second consecutive solid performance. He allowed a pair of solo homers in nine innings of a game the Marlins lost in extra innings at Atlanta last week.

"Unfortunately we weren't able to get him a win," Girardi said. "But Dontrelle is on the right track."

Notes

  • The complete game was the 12th of Willis' career.
  • Maddon returned to the bench after missing the first two games of the series to fly to California for his girlfriend's graduation from law school.
  • Only one Marlin had faced Kazmir before Sunday. C Miguel Olivo, who was not in the lineup, was 0-for-1 lifetime against the Devil Rays lefty.
  • Tampa Bay won the first two games of the series on walk-off homers. Florida has the longest current streak in the majors without a walk-off home run -- 317 games. The Marlins haven't hit one since May 29, 2004 against the New York Mets.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Scott Kazmir fans 11 and yields just four hits, three singles and a double, in eight scoreless innings.  (AP)
Scott Kazmir fans 11 and yields just four hits, three singles and a double, in eight scoreless innings. (AP)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

S. Kazmir
IP 8.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 1
K 11
Tampa Bay

J. Gomes
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Florida Marlins
Robert Andino, SS4010011 .222
Dan Uggla, 2B4010012 .305
Miguel Cabrera, 3B4010001 .325
Josh Willingham, DH3000112 .284
Wes Helms, 1B3000022 .226
   a- Mike Jacobs, PH1000000 .225
Joe Borchard, RF3000022 .197
Chris Aguila, LF3010000 .234
Reggie Abercrombie, CF3000032 .238
Matt Treanor, C2000010 .220
Totals3004011112 
a-flied out for Helms in the 9th
Batting
2B - Miguel Cabrera (17, Kazmir)
SB - Miguel Cabrera (4, 3rd base off Kazmir/Paul)
PK - Josh Willingham (2, Kazmir)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Reggie Abercrombie 1
DP - Andino-Uggla-Helms
E - Joe Borchard (1, misplayed grounder)
Florida Marlins
Dontrelle Willis (L,1-5) 8832330 5.12
Pitches-Strikes - Dontrelle Willis 108-73
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dontrelle Willis 9-9
Batters Faced - Dontrelle Willis 32
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Julio Lugo, SS4010000 .233
Damon Hollins, LF-RF2100201 .244
Jonny Gomes, RF4121001 .289
    Carl Crawford, LF0000000 .261
Ty Wigginton, 2B4121012 .250
Greg Norton, 1B4011024 .257
    Travis Lee, 1B0000000 .205
Toby Hall, DH3000000 .279
Josh Paul, C3020000 .297
Tomas Perez, 3B2000100 .179
Joey Gathright, CF3000001 .198
Totals29383339 
Batting
3B - Jonny Gomes (1, Willis)
RBI - Jonny Gomes (36), Ty Wigginton (33), Greg Norton (4)
2-OUT RBI - Jonny Gomes (6), Ty Wigginton (16), Greg Norton (2)
CS - Josh Paul (1, 2nd base by Willis/Treanor)
Team LOB - 5
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Scott Kazmir (W,7-2) 84001110 2.39
Tyler Walker (S,8) 1000000 7.79
HBP - Treanor (by Scott Kazmir)
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Kazmir 115-73, Tyler Walker 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Kazmir 4-8
Batters Faced - Scott Kazmir 29, Tyler Walker 3
Game Information
Attendance - 19058
Game Time - 2:12
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Mike Reilly, First Base - Jeff Kellogg, Second Base - Jerry Meals, Third Base - Andy Fletcher