Published June 18, 2011
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez needed only two words to describe the Marlins' latest loss in their June swoon.
"Same story," he said.
Logan Morrison had two RBIs for the Marlins, who have lost nine straight and dropped to 1-17 in June.
"Same questions. Same answers," Rodriguez said. "One thing for sure, those guys, they're giving it 100 percent. You see the intensity on the bench. They're pulling for each other. It's just not happening."
Ricky Nolasco (4-3) allowed five runs and eight hits over five innings. The right-hander was coming off a start last Monday against Arizona in which he gave up nine runs — five earned — in three innings of 12-9 loss.
"Ricky, he was up in the zone," Rodriguez said. "That's why he got hit. He's just struggling, like the whole team."
Rodriguez tweaked his lineup, having recently acquired Dewayne Wise hit first and dropping the slumping Hanley Ramirez from the top of the lineup to sixth.
Ramirez, who entered hitting just .201, had a single in two at-bats and walked twice.
"See how it works," Rodriguez said. "See if we get Hanley going in the six-hole."
Despite hitting just .229 this month, the Marlins believe better days are ahead.
"It's going to happen," Florida first baseman Gaby Sanchez said. "Trust it's going to happen. We have to keep pushing and break out of this."
Cobb (2-0) gave up two runs, scattered three hits, walked two and struck out two in 6 1-3 innings. The rookie right-hander has been filling for the injured Jeff Niemann, and was optioned to Triple-A Durham after the game.
Damon, with an opposite-field bloop double to left in the first, became just the 11th player all-time to have 500 doubles, 100 triples, 200 homers, and 2,500 hits.
All of the other players accomplishing the feat — George Brett, Lou Gehrig, Goose Goslin, Rogers Hornsby, Willie Mays, Paul Molitor, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Al Simmons and Robin Yount — are in baseball's Hall of Fame.
Sam Fuld hit a run-scoring single and Reid Brignac drove in run with a double off Nolasco during the second as the Rays went ahead 3-1. Casey Kotchman's third-inning RBI double made it 4-1.
Florida took the lead in the first on Morrison's RBI grounder. The Rays tied it at 1 in the bottom half when Damon hit his milestone double and later scored on Matt Joyce's sacrifice fly.
Damon singled in the fifth to tie Jimmie Foxx for 72nd place on the career hits list with 2,646.
Joyce extended the lead to 5-1 on another sac fly in the fifth. Two runs scored one inning later when third baseman Greg Dobbs was charged with an error for dropping Joyce's two-out pop fly with bases loaded.
Cobb retired 10 in a row before allowing a leadoff single in the fifth to Ramirez.
Morrison had an eighth-inning sacrifice fly and Omar Infante added an RBI single in the ninth that cut the deficit to 7-4.
"It's a young team," Rodriguez said. "They're still trying to figure out how to play at this level. I know one thing. A year from now, two years from now, this team is going to be way up there with everybody. The talent is there."
NOTES: Florida OF Mike Stanton, scheduled to be the DH, was scratched due to a right eye infection. Rodriguez said an exam by an eye doctor found no major problems and that there was a slight chance Stanton might play Sunday. ... Niemann has been on the DL since May 5 with a strained lower back and will start Monday's game at Milwaukee.