MIAMI – Carlos Zambrano has had back issues in the past. He has always tried to fight through them.
Unfortunately for the Miami Marlins, he had no such luck Saturday night.
Zambrano (4-4) allowed seven runs in 2 1-3 innings before leaving with lower back stiffness in a 13-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I came in with some discomfort," Zambrano said. "I had it stretched by the trainers. During the game it was aggravated to the point that I couldn't pitch anymore. I should have said something before."
Manager Ozzie Guillen and a trainer tended to Zambrano after he issued a one-out walk in the third. Zambrano was convincing enough to stay in the game despite a 5-0 deficit. Following the visit to the mound, Zambrano immediately surrendered a two-run homer to Ben Zobrist that ended his outing. Zobrist's homer, estimated at 379 feet, hit off the facade of the upper deck in right field.
"He had a stiff back," Guillen said. "He couldn't get loose. A tough situation. I appreciate what Carlos did. He wanted to pitch, he wanted to stay in the game. I appreciate that. I'd rather he be more honest. I'd rather lose a game than lose a player. I don't want heroes."
Zobrist went 3 for 3 with two home runs, two walks, scored four runs, drove in four runs, and raised his batting average from .206 to .218.
"It's been a long couple of months for me trying to get things going and hopefully this is a sign of good things to come," Zobrist said.
Jose Molina and Elliot Johnson had three RBIs each for the Rays, who have won three straight.
Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore (3-5) struck out nine and allowed four runs in six innings.
"We did an unbelievable job of when we had someone on they were getting in," Moore said. "It was a lot of fun pitching behind stuff like that."
The Marlins have lost the first five games of a nine-game homestand.
"We played terrible," Guillen said.
Zobrist connected again to right field in the fifth — another two-run shot for a 9-0 lead. It was the second multi-home run game of his career. He hit two at Detroit on Sept. 25, 2008.
"He obviously had a great game," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Tampa Bay scored five runs in the second as the first five batters reached base including Johnson with a two-run single. Desmond Jennings, Molina, and Moore also drove in runs in the inning.
"During the course of a baseball season you're going to do it right sometimes and sometimes you're going to mess it up," Maddon said. "Tonight we didn't mess it up. We got it right."
Justin Ruggiano hit a three-run homer for Miami.
NOTES: After the game the Marlins designated 3B Donnie Murphy for assignment. ... It was Zambrano's shortest start since June 30, 2011 while with the Cubs when he left after an inning due to back soreness against the Giants. ... Rays 3B Evan Longoria (hamstring) successfully ran the bases before the game and is hopeful to begin a rehab assignment soon. "He did fine," Maddon said. "He's improving all of the time. I guess we will run him again on Tuesday and make a determination. If everything goes well he should be out probably immediately after that." ... There were loud cheers during the game from fans watching the Heat-Celtics Game 7 on TVs throughout the stadium. ... Before the game, the wives of Marlins and Rays players met in a charity softball game to benefit Shake-A-Leg Miami and Autism Speaks, Tampa Bay Charter with the Rays winning 14-2. "We have a very athletic group of young ladies here," Maddon said. ... Tampa Bay will send RHP James Shields (6-4, 4.27 ERA) to the mound Sunday in the series finale against RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-4, 3.19 ERA), who is coming off his worst outing of the season allowing seven runs in an 11-0 loss to the Braves on June 5.