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Texas (68-53)000000030362
Tampa Bay (66-55) «11003000x570

Kazmir works magic on mound as Rays top Rangers

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Scott Kazmir picked a great time for his best start of the season.

Kazmir took a shutout into the eighth inning, and Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena homered on consecutive pitches as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Texas Rangers 5-3 on Friday night.

"That's as good as he's been all year in my mind," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "It was really fun to watch. I was really impressed."

Kazmir (8-7) didn't allow a run until Taylor Teagarden opened the eighth with a homer. The left-hander, who has won four straight starts at home, wound up allowing three runs and five hits over 7 1/3 innings.

"If he can keep that going, there's no telling what can happen," Rays center fielder B.J. Upton said.

Tampa Bay moved within three games of AL wild-card leader Boston. Texas remains one game behind the Red Sox, who lost 20-11 to the New York Yankees.

"We played all around good baseball," Kazmir said. "To get that first one [a win in the initial game of the series] is huge and gives us a little momentum."

It was just the second time this year Kazmir has gone seven or more innings.

Zobrist hit a two-run shot and Pena followed with his 32nd homer to put Tampa Bay ahead 5-0 in the fifth. Zobrist has homered in three straight games and has 22 this season, breaking a tie with Jose Cruz Jr. (2004) for the most by a Rays switch-hitter.

Dustin Nippert (4-2) gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings for the Rangers, who are 20-14 since the All-Star break.

"I don't know if it's like I lost my focus or what, but those two pitches were not where I wanted to throw them," Nippert said. "That was the deciding factor of the game."

Michael Young had three hits for Texas.

After Teagarden's homer, Marlon Byrd had an RBI single and Andruw Jones hit a run-scoring grounder off Grant Balfour, cutting Texas' deficit to 5-3. The eighth inning ended when pinch-runner Julio Borbon was thrown out trying to steal second with Josh Hamilton batting.

Texas had a no-steal situation in place for Hamilton's at-bat.

"Am I going to call a steal from the dugout with Hamilton at the plate?" Texas manager Ron Washington asked. "You just don't force things. There's certain situations in the ballgame that say that the best thing to do is let the guy at the plate do his damage if he's going to do his damage. He learned from it. We'll move on."

"I just got a little mixed up on the sign there," Borbon said. "It wasn't the smartest thing to do, going on that pitch."

Kazmir worked out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the sixth by striking out Byrd and Jones.

J.P. Howell pitched the ninth for his 15th save. The Rays improved to 41-20 at home.

Carl Crawford put the Rays ahead 1-0 when he drove in Jason Bartlett with a grounder in the first. Bartlett made it 2-0 during the second with a sacrifice bunt-fielder's choice.

Notes

  • The Rays are 9-17 against the AL West this season.
  • Pena has two homers in four at-bats against Nippert.
  • Teagarden has homered in four of his last 10 games.
  • Byrd has driven in 12 runs over his last 12 games.
  • Texas RHP Jason Grilli (right elbow) rejoined the team after a minor league rehab stint and is expected to be reinstated from the 15-day DL this weekend.
  • Rangers C Kevin Richardson, designated for assignment earlier this week, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma City,
 
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 carries a shutout into the eighth inning. He strikes out four with just two walks. (AP)
Scott Kazmir carries a shutout into the eighth inning. He strikes out four with just two walks. (AP)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

B. Zobrist
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Texas

M. Young
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Texas Rangers
Ian Kinsler, 2B3100101 .247
Michael Young, 3B4130000 .326
Marlon Byrd, LF4011013 .286
Andruw Jones, DH4001023 .217
    Julio Borbon, PR-DH0000000 .485
Josh Hamilton, CF4000010 .262
Nelson Cruz, RF3000100 .266
Hank Blalock, 1B3000111 .240
Taylor Teagarden, C4111012 .199
Elvis Andrus, SS3010000 .270
Totals3236336  
Batting
2B - Michael Young (35, Kazmir)
HR - Taylor Teagarden (6, Kazmir)
RBI - Marlon Byrd (65), Andruw Jones (41), Taylor Teagarden (21)
SB - Ian Kinsler (24, 3rd base off Balfour/Zaun), Michael Young (8, 2nd base off Balfour/Zaun)
CS - Julio Borbon (1, 2nd base by Balfour/Zaun)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
E - Dustin Nippert (1, Throwing), Taylor Teagarden (5, Throwing)
Texas Rangers
Dustin Nippert (L,4-2) 5754232 3.95
Willie Eyre 2000100 3.48
C.J. Wilson 0.2000300 2.91
Darren O'Day 0.1000010 1.83
IBB - Burrell by C.J. Wilson
WP - C.J. Wilson (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Dustin Nippert 95-60, Willie Eyre 17-11, C.J. Wilson 22-8, Darren O'Day 3-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dustin Nippert 6-6, Willie Eyre 2-3, C.J. Wilson 1-1
Batters Faced - Dustin Nippert 24, Willie Eyre 6, C.J. Wilson 5, Darren O'Day 1
Tampa Bay Rays
Jason Bartlett, SS3111000 .344
Carl Crawford, LF4001001 .318
Evan Longoria, 3B4120000 .278
Ben Zobrist, 2B3122101 .292
Carlos Pena, 1B3111111 .214
Pat Burrell, DH3000123 .229
Gregg Zaun, C3000102 .250
Gabe Gross, RF3110001 .261
   a- Gabe Kapler, PH-RF0000100 .239
B.J. Upton, CF3000113 .237
Totals2957564  
a-walked for Gross in the 8th
Batting
2B - Evan Longoria (35, Nippert)
HR - Ben Zobrist (22, Nippert), Carlos Pena (32, Nippert)
SH - Jason Bartlett (4)
RBI - Jason Bartlett (57), Carl Crawford (59), Ben Zobrist 2 (67), Carlos Pena (80)
2-OUT RBI - Ben Zobrist 2 (26), Carlos Pena (24)
SB - Jason Bartlett (23, 3rd base off Nippert/Teagarden), Ben Zobrist (15, 2nd base off Nippert/Teagarden)
CS - Gregg Zaun (1, 2nd base by Eyre/Teagarden), B.J. Upton (12, 3rd base by Nippert/Teagarden)
Team LOB - 7
Tampa Bay Rays
Scott Kazmir (W,8-7) 7.1533241 6.17
Grant Balfour (H,14) 0.2100000 4.37
J.P. Howell (S,15) 1000120 2.15
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Kazmir 106-67, Grant Balfour 15-10, J.P. Howell 18-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Kazmir 5-13, Grant Balfour 1-0, J.P. Howell 1-0
Batters Faced - Scott Kazmir 29, Grant Balfour 2, J.P. Howell 4
Game Information
Attendance - 20639
Game Time - 2:53
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Tim McClelland, First Base - Jerry Layne, Second Base - Andy Fletcher, Third Base - Greg Gibson