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Chicago at Tampa Bay

Scoreboard
Chi. White Sox (30-25)000000000041
Tampa Bay (34-22) «00110000x250

Kazmir sets team record for wins in a month to lead Rays

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For a guy who insists he's still trying to regain his form, Scott Kazmir sure is pitching well.

The 2007 AL strikeout champion won his fifth straight start Saturday night, allowing three hits in seven innings to outpitch Javier Vazquez in AL East-leading Tampa Bay's 2-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night.

"Kazmir was the name of the game. We needed a great pitching performance against Vazquez and we got it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought he was closer to what we saw at the end of last season today. Really a great effort on his part."

The 24-year-old left-hander set a Rays record for wins in a month, improving to 5-1 since spending all of April on the disabled list with a left elbow strain that also sidelined him for all but a few days of spring training.

Cliff Floyd homered for the second straight game and B.J. Upton drove in another run off Vazquez (5-4) with an RBI grounder, helping the surprising Rays go 12 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history at a league-best 34-22.

"I feel like I can (pitch better). We'll take it," Kazmir said. "It felt like at times I was falling off the mound a little bit ... but it was working. I'm getting more and more comfortable every game."

The third of four games between division leaders drew a sellout crowd of 36,048, up from 12,636 and 14,679 the previous two nights. It was the third full-house of the season, and mostly could be attributed to a post-game concert featuring country music star Trace Adkins.

"I never saw as many people out here," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who played one season with the Rays in 2000. "It's real nice to see the fans. They should have cowboy night every night."

Kazmir limited the White Sox to Alexei Ramirez's first-inning double and Jermaine Dye's fourth-inning single until Toby Hall singled with two outs in the seventh. He walked three, struck out six, and didn't allow a runner past second base.

The Rays' career wins and strikeouts leader lowered his ERA to 1.22 and hasn't given up more than one run in any of his five outings since Boston scored four in four innings to beat Kazmir in his first start of the season on May 4.

"Kazmir has been throwing really well. It's nothing new," Guillen said. "We continue to struggle at the plate."

Al Reyes and J.P. Howell pitched the eighth for Tampa Bay. Dan Wheeler, Trever Miller and Grant Balfour each got an out in the ninth to finish the Rays' seventh shutout.

Balfour, called up from Triple-A Durham this week when closer Troy Percival went on the 15-day list with a hamstring strain, earned his first career save by getting Brian Anderson to fly to center with the potential tying runs on base.

"I have no problem with any of these guys coming in," said Maddon, who intends to fill the closer's role with several pitchers while Percival is out. "I think any of them can get the last out."

Vazquez pitched well, but not as good as Kazmir.

The Rays only managed five hits against the right-hander in seven innings. But Upton's RBI grounder after Carl Crawford doubled to give Tampa Bay runners at second and third made it 1-0 in the third, and Floyd hit an 0-2 pitch for his fifth homer in the fourth.

Vazquez walked two and struck out a season-high 10, the 34th time in his career he's fanned 10 or more.

"I knew coming in that I can't give up much," said Vazquez, who lost for the first time since he allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings of a 1-0 loss at Toronto on May 5.

The White Sox were 3-for-20 with runners in scoring position and stranded 15 in the first two games of the series, including 1-for-9 when they lost 2-1 Friday night on Floyd's ninth-inning, walkoff homer.

The struggles continued against Kazmir, who gave up a first-inning double to Ramirez before striking out Carlos Quentin and getting Dye to fly to center. The left-hander picked Joe Crede off second base, bailing himself out of a potential jam in the second.

The White Sox, shut out for the sixth time this season, have not scored in the past 13 innings. They were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position Saturday night.

"The positive thing you can look at on the offensive side is we're getting guys on," Crede said. "It's frustrating and tough. ... We might be trying to do too much up there. I think it will come around."

Notes

  • The sellout was just the 11th in the Rays' 11 seasons. Seven of them have come since the start of last season.
  • The White Sox reinstated INF Juan Uribe (strained right hamstring) from the 15-day disabled list and designated OF DeWayne Wise for assignment.
  • Tampa Bay OF Rocco Baldelli (mitochondrial disorder) went 0-for-5 in an extended spring training game. He remains of the 60-day DL, but hopes to return to the major leagues before the end of the season.
  • White Sox DH Jim Thome, 0-for-10 lifetime against Kazmir, was not in the starting lineup. He pinch-hit against Howell in the eighth, striking out with a runner on second.
 
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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Cliff Floyd celebrates his fifth homer to help the Rays improve to 12 games over .500.  (AP)
Cliff Floyd celebrates his fifth homer to help the Rays improve to 12 games over .500. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

J. Vazquez
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 2
BB 2
K 10
Tampa Bay

S. Kazmir
IP 7.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 3
K 6
 
Chicago White Sox
Orlando Cabrera, SS3000101 .242
Alexei Ramirez, 2B3010011 .234
   a- Jim Thome, PH1000011 .207
    Juan Uribe, 2B0000000 .198
Carlos Quentin, LF3000122 .293
Jermaine Dye, RF4010002 .293
Paul Konerko, DH3000111 .206
Joe Crede, 3B3010111 .271
    Pablo Ozuna, PR0000000 .250
Toby Hall, C3010001 .372
   b- A.J. Pierzynski, PH1000002 .279
Brian Anderson, CF4000024 .221
Nick Swisher, 1B2000110 .201
Totals3004059  
a-struck out for Ramirez in the 8th
b-flied out for Hall in the 9th
Batting
2B - Alexei Ramirez (5, Kazmir)
SB - Orlando Cabrera 2 (9, 2nd base off Howell/Navarro, 3rd base off Howell/Navarro)
PK - Joe Crede (1, Kazmir)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
E - Orlando Cabrera (2, Missed catch of throw)
Chicago White Sox
Javier Vazquez (L,5-4) 75222101 3.43
Boone Logan 1000020 2.37
Pitches-Strikes - Javier Vazquez 108-73, Boone Logan 11-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Javier Vazquez 8-3, Boone Logan 1-0
Batters Faced - Javier Vazquez 28, Boone Logan 3
Tampa Bay Rays
Akinori Iwamura, 2B4100031 .276
Carl Crawford, LF3020110 .277
B.J. Upton, CF3001101 .304
Carlos Pena, 1B4010033 .220
Evan Longoria, 3B3000012 .247
Cliff Floyd, DH3111021 .281
Dioner Navarro, C3000001 .352
Eric Hinske, RF3000020 .247
    Gabe Gross, RF0000000 .218
Jason Bartlett, SS3010000 .249
Totals29252212  
Batting
2B - Carl Crawford (7, Vazquez), Carlos Pena (6, Vazquez)
HR - Cliff Floyd (5, Vazquez)
RBI - B.J. Upton (34), Cliff Floyd (14)
SB - Carl Crawford (15, 2nd base off Vazquez/Hall)
Team LOB - 5
Tampa Bay Rays
Scott Kazmir (W,5-1) 7300360 1.22
Al Reyes (H,2) 0.1000110 3.86
J.P. Howell (H,2) 0.2000020 3.57
Dan Wheeler (H,13) 0.1100100 2.08
Trever Miller (H,6) 0.1000000 3.63
Grant Balfour (S,1) 0.1000000 0.00
WP - Scott Kazmir (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Kazmir 110-72, Al Reyes 10-3, J.P. Howell 9-6, Dan Wheeler 13-8, Trever Miller 7-6, Grant Balfour 2-1
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Kazmir 1-13
Batters Faced - Scott Kazmir 26, Al Reyes 2, J.P. Howell 2, Dan Wheeler 3, Trever Miller 1, Grant Balfour 1
Game Information
Attendance - 36048
Game Time - 2:46
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Doug Eddings, First Base - Ted Barrett, Second Base - Dana DeMuth, Third Base - Lance Barksdale