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Florida at Tampa Bay

Scoreboard
Florida (30-32)1002100105101
Tampa Bay (40-22) «23000010x6130

Pena homers in sixth straight game as Rays top Marlins

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- His confidence seemingly growing with every at-bat, Carlos Pena is emerging from a season-long slump with flair.

The suddenly red-hot slugger homered for the sixth consecutive game, helping right-hander Matt Garza and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Florida Marlins 6-5 on Saturday.

"I keep saying I'm just grateful I have an opportunity to do it," said Pena, whose .196 batting average is his highest in more than a month. "That is awesome, so I never lose sight of that."

The 2009 AL home run co-champion became the first player to go deep in six straight games since Frank Thomas did it for Oakland Sept. 5-11, 2006. He has seven homers during the streak, giving him 15 this season and a league-leading 131 since joining the Rays in 2007 -- four more than Alex Rodriguez.

The major league record of eight consecutive games with a homer is shared by Dale Long (Pirates, May 19-28, 1956), Don Mattingly (Yankees, July 8-18, 1987) and Ken Griffey, Jr. (Mariners, July 20-28, 1993).

"I'm trusting myself a little bit more. I'm trusting my plan, and I'm focusing on seeing the ball and trusting that the right swing will come out when my eyes recognize the pitch I want," Pena said, adding that he isn't going to the plate looking to hit home runs.

"When you try, it doesn't happen. So, I've been focusing on the process and executing the process. ... Everything else just takes care of itself."

Pena connected off right-hander Ricky Nolasco (5-5) in the first inning for a 2-1 lead. Carl Crawford and Sean Rodrgiuez also homered for the Rays, who maintained baseball's best record (40-22) and a one-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East.

"I'm not going to say anything. ... He can just keep doing what he's doing," Garza said. "I don't care how he's doing it, but keep doing what he's doing."

Garza (7-4) allowed four runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. Relievers Grant Balfour and Joaquin Benoit got the Rays to the ninth inning, where Rafael Soriano sat the Marlins down in order to earn his 16th save in 16 opportunities.

Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Reid Brignac also drove in runs for Tampa Bay, which rebounded from losing the opener of the Citrus Series 14-9. The Rays have won 11 of 14 games against the Marlins over the past two-plus seasons.

A night after drawing a crowd of just 19,338, attendance jumped to 29,963 -- bolstered by a postgame concert featuring country music performer Dierks Bentley.

All three of Tampa Bay's homers were solo shots off Nolasco, who allowed five runs and nine hits over 2 1/3 innings.

"I think tonight is just one of those games," Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I'm going to chalk it up to just one of those games and go from there."

The Marlins trailed 5-1 when Nolasco departed and wasted a couple of opportunities to cut into the deficit.

Hanley Ramirez tripled in the third, but was thrown out trying to score on a fly ball that right fielder Zobrist caught in foul territory. Dan Uggla and Cody Ross singled to begin the fourth, but Ross was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double.

Notes

  • Jose Canseco homered in five consecutive games for Tampa Bay in 1999.
  • Marlins LF Chris Coughlan tripled in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to 12 games.
  • The Rays placed OF Gabe Kapler on the 15-day disabled list with a right hip flexor strain and recalled OF Justin Ruggiano from Triple-A Durham.
  • SS Jason Bartlett, out since May 30 with right hamstring strain, will begin a two-game minor league rehab stint with Durham on Monday. He's expected to return to Tampa Bay's lineup Wednesday at Atlanta.
 
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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Carlos Pena is the first player to go deep in six straight games since Frank Thomas in 2006.  (AP)
Carlos Pena is the first player to go deep in six straight games since Frank Thomas in 2006. (AP)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

C. Crawford
AB 5
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
Florida

W. Helms
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Florida Marlins
Chris Coghlan, LF4220011 .282
Gaby Sanchez, 1B3010110 .283
Hanley Ramirez, SS4121000 .281
Jorge Cantu, DH4010002 .285
Dan Uggla, 2B4120012 .262
Cody Ross, CF4010013 .297
Mike Stanton, RF3000112 .294
Wes Helms, 3B4112032 .284
Ronny Paulino, C4000021 .300
Totals345103210  
Batting
2B - Chris Coghlan (11, Garza), Hanley Ramirez (13, Balfour)
3B - Chris Coghlan (3, Garza), Hanley Ramirez (2, Garza)
HR - Wes Helms (1, Garza)
RBI - Hanley Ramirez (33), Wes Helms 2 (7)
2-OUT RBI - Wes Helms 2 (3)
SB - Mike Stanton (1, 2nd base off Garza/Jaso)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
PB - Ronny Paulino (3)
E - Ricky Nolasco (2, Throwing)
Florida Marlins
Ricky Nolasco (L,5-5) 2.1955123 5.05
Nate Robertson 5.2411150 4.57
HBP - Brignac (by Ricky Nolasco)
Pitches-Strikes - Ricky Nolasco 57-38, Nate Robertson 83-56
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ricky Nolasco 5-0, Nate Robertson 6-6
Batters Faced - Ricky Nolasco 18, Nate Robertson 22
Tampa Bay Rays
John Jaso, C5000014 .279
Carl Crawford, LF5221002 .297
Evan Longoria, 3B5011010 .324
Carlos Pena, 1B5111032 .196
Ben Zobrist, RF4021010 .312
B.J. Upton, CF3110102 .243
Hank Blalock, DH3010002 .250
   a- Kelly Shoppach, PH-DH0000100 .250
Sean Rodriguez, 2B3121012 .270
Reid Brignac, SS3131000 .303
Totals36613627  
a-walked for Blalock in the 7th
Batting
2B - B.J. Upton (16, Robertson), Hank Blalock (2, Nolasco)
HR - Carl Crawford (6, Nolasco), Carlos Pena (15, Nolasco), Sean Rodriguez (4, Nolasco)
SH - Sean Rodriguez (3)
RBI - Carl Crawford (35), Evan Longoria (48), Carlos Pena (43), Ben Zobrist (31), Sean Rodriguez (21), Reid Brignac (23)
2-OUT RBI - Carlos Pena (12), Ben Zobrist (9), Reid Brignac (2)
SB - B.J. Upton (20, 3rd base off Robertson/Paulino)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Carl Crawford 1, Ben Zobrist 1
DP - Zobrist-Jaso, Longoria-S. Rodriguez-Pena
Tampa Bay Rays
Matt Garza (W,7-4) 5.2944271 3.50
Grant Balfour (H,6) 2111020 1.98
Joaquin Benoit (H,3) 0.1000000 0.63
Rafael Soriano (S,16) 1000010 1.52
WP - Matt Garza (8)
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Garza 102-64, Grant Balfour 25-17, Joaquin Benoit 2-1, Rafael Soriano 9-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Garza 3-4, Grant Balfour 3-1
Batters Faced - Matt Garza 25, Grant Balfour 7, Joaquin Benoit 1, Rafael Soriano 3
Game Information
Attendance - 29963
Game Time - 2:57
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Jim Wolf, First Base - Derryl Cousins, Second Base - Marvin Hudson, Third Base - Jim Joyce