Arlington, TX – Evan Longoria belted a three-run home run and finished with four runs batted in as the Rays defeated the Rangers 8-4 in the opener of a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday.
B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist added an RBI apiece while Luke Scott smacked a solo shot for the Rays. Starter James Shields surrendered four runs on eleven hits with eight strike outs over six innings to earn the victory.
"The guys did a great job of getting us off to a hot start," said Shields. "Obviously getting a bunch of runs early was huge and obviously against a team like this you have to do that."
The Rays have now won six straight for the first time since a seven-game run from July 24-30, 2010.
Texas starter Matt Harrison was shelled for seven runs -- six earned -- and 14 hits over five innings of work. Josh Hamilton launched a three-run homer while David Murphy added a solo shot for the Rangers, who had won two straight.
"It seemed like they knew what I was going to throw," lamented Harrison. "Maybe I was tipping something tonight, I don't know."
The Rays jumped all over the Rangers in the top of the first as Desmond Jennings smacked a leadoff single and Carlos Pena reached on an error before Longoria belted his fourth homer of the year for a 3-0 lead.
Zobrist then worked a walk before scoring on Upton's single two batters later to make it 4-0 before the Rangers even batted.
Texas got one back in the home half, as Ian Kinsler launched a leadoff double off the wall and Elvis Andrus followed with a single. Andrus was then picked off at first before Kinsler scored on a groundout from Hamilton.
Consecutive singles with one out in the third had runners on first and second for the Rays. After Sean Rodriguez lined out, Chris Gimenez singled to right field. Jeff Keppinger scored on the play, but Andrus was thrown out at the plate, making the margin 5-1 in favor of Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay added two more in the fifth, as Elliot Johnson roped a leadoff double before consecutive groundouts slowed the rally. But Longoria followed with a single to score Johnson before Zobrist's double plated Longoria for a 7-1 lead.
Texas pulled within 7-3 in the fifth as Hamilton belted his ninth home run of the year, a two-run shot.
Both teams added a run with the long ball in the sixth as Scott belted his fifth of the year in the top half and Murphy answered in the bottom half with his second of the season to make it 8-4 Tampa Bay.
The Rays have won 12 of Shields' last 15 regular-season starts, dating back to August. 3 of last season...Jennings leadoff single for the Rays extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games...Saturday's matchup features two right-handers as Jeff Niemann toes the rubber for Tampa Bay against Colby Lewis of Texas.