|Tampa Bay (13-7) «||4||0||1||2||0||1||0||0||0||8||16||2|
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tampa Bay came out swinging against their postseason nemesis.
Evan Longoria homered to key a four-run first inning and the Rays won their sixth straight game, beating the Texas Rangers 8-4 Friday night in the first meeting this season between the playoff rivals.
Tampa Bay's first six batters of the game reached base and it had a 7-1 lead by the fourth inning against Texas starter Matt Harrison (3-1).
"Against a team like this," said Tampa Bay starter James Shields, who won his fourth straight start, "you have to score runs early."
The Rangers beat the Rays the past two seasons in the American League Division Series along the way to consecutive World Series appearances.
Harrison was the winning pitcher in the series-clinching Game 4 of the ALDS last season against the Rays.
Even after the building the big lead, Tampa Bay was still a little nervous in the late innings.
Texas' Elvis Andrus lined out to center with the bases loaded to end the eighth against reliever Wade Davis. The Texas shortstop just missed hitting a grand slam on the previous pitch when his shot down the line in right landed a few feet foul.
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"It was the most intense 8-4 game you're ever going to find in April," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Tampa Bay had a season-high 16 hits in support of Shields (4-0).
The Rays' ace became the first starter in the AL to win four games this season. Shields, who struck out eight, allowed four runs and 11 hits in six innings.
This is Tampa Bay's longest winning streak since a seven-game run July 24-30, 2010.
"We've been on a nice little streak," Shields said. "We wanted to get this series started off right."
Josh Hamilton hit his league-leading ninth home run and Andrus added three hits for the Rangers.
Harrison gave up seven runs and a career-high 14 hits in five innings. The left-hander had allowed a combined four runs in winning his first three starts of the season.
"That's the way it goes," Harrison said. "Tonight, they just had my number."
Tampa Bay pounced on Harrison from the start.
Longoria drove a 3-2 change-up just over the wall in the center. It was his fourth home run of the season.
After Hamilton's RBI grounder in the first, Tampa Bay picked up a run in the third on Chris Gimenez's RBI single.
Longoria had an RBI single and scored on Zobrist's double in the fourth, extending Tampa Bay's lead to 7-1.
Harrison had his ERA jump from 1.66, which led the AL coming into the game, to 3.38.
"They came out swinging the bats and scored some runs early," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Luke Scott homered in the sixth, and Upton and Keppinger each had three hits for the Rays.
Hamilton hit a two-run blast in the fifth and David Murphy chipped in with a solo shot in the sixth off Shields.
The Rangers had runners on first and third with two outs in the sixth, but Shields induced a weak grounder to the mound from Andrus to end the threat.
|Evan Longoria homers to key a four-run first inning that leads the Rays past the Rangers. (US Presswire)|
|Players of the Game|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Desmond Jennings, LF||5||1||2||0||0||0||2||.272|
|Carlos Pena, 1B||5||1||0||0||0||1||4||.264|
|Evan Longoria, 3B||4||2||2||4||1||1||1||.319|
|Ben Zobrist, RF||4||1||1||1||1||0||1||.191|
|Jeff Keppinger, DH||3||1||3||0||0||0||0||.250|
|a- Luke Scott, PH-DH||2||1||1||1||0||1||0||.288|
|B.J. Upton, CF||5||0||3||1||0||1||2||.318|
|Sean Rodriguez, SS||5||0||0||0||0||0||5||.196|
|Chris Gimenez, C||4||0||2||1||0||0||2||.350|
|Elliot Johnson, 2B||4||1||2||0||0||0||1||.200|
|a-homered for Keppinger in the 6th|
|2B - Ben Zobrist (3, Harrison), Elliot Johnson (1, Harrison)|
|HR - Evan Longoria (4, Harrison), Luke Scott (5, Lowe)|
|RBI - Evan Longoria 4 (18), Ben Zobrist (10), Luke Scott (16), B.J. Upton (7), Chris Gimenez (2)|
|2-OUT RBI - Evan Longoria (7), Ben Zobrist (1), Luke Scott (8), Chris Gimenez (1)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - S. Rodriguez-Johnson-Pena|
|E - Chris Gimenez (2, Interference), Evan Longoria (6, Dropped fly)|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|James Shields (W,4-0)||6||11||4||4||0||8||2||3.31|
|Wade Davis (H,3)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||1.86|
|HBP - Beltre (by J.P. Howell)|
|Pitches-Strikes - James Shields 111-73, J.P. Howell 19-11, Wade Davis 27-18, Jake McGee 10-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James Shields 8-1, J.P. Howell 1-0|
|Batters Faced - James Shields 29, J.P. Howell 5, Wade Davis 4, Jake McGee 3|
|Ian Kinsler, 2B||4||1||2||0||1||0||1||.313|
|Elvis Andrus, SS||5||1||3||0||0||0||5||.263|
|Josh Hamilton, CF||5||1||1||3||0||3||0||.378|
|Adrian Beltre, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||2||1||.309|
|Michael Young, DH||5||0||1||0||0||1||2||.346|
|Nelson Cruz, RF||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.247|
|David Murphy, LF||3||1||2||1||0||0||0||.327|
|Mike Napoli, C||4||0||1||0||0||3||3||.270|
|Mitch Moreland, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.186|
|2B - Ian Kinsler (7, Shields), Mitch Moreland (1, Shields)|
|HR - Josh Hamilton (9, Shields), David Murphy (2, Shields)|
|RBI - Josh Hamilton 3 (22), David Murphy (6)|
|SB - Elvis Andrus (4, 2nd base off Shields/Gimenez)|
|PK - Elvis Andrus (2, Shields)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|Outfield Assists - Nelson Cruz 1, David Murphy 1|
|DP - Murphy-Beltre, Moreland-Andrus-Lowe|
|E - Ian Kinsler (3, Misplayed grounder)|
|Matt Harrison (L,3-1)||5||14||7||6||1||3||1||3.38|
|Pitches-Strikes - Matt Harrison 100-62, Mark Lowe 24-13, Koji Uehara 9-7, Robbie Ross 23-16, Alexi Ogando 6-4|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Harrison 4-7, Mark Lowe 2-0, Koji Uehara 3-0, Robbie Ross 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Matt Harrison 29, Mark Lowe 5, Koji Uehara 3, Robbie Ross 4, Alexi Ogando 2|
|Attendance - 47496|
|Game Time - 3:18|
|Temperature - 88|
|Umpires - Home - Bob Davidson, First Base - Hunter Wendelstedt, Second Base - Dan Bellino, Third Base - Jerry Layne|