ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - B.J. Upton homered and drove in three
runs in his return from a benching, Scott Kazmir allowed two runs
in six innings and the Tampa Bay Rays added a game to their AL East
lead with a 7-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Sunday night.
With the bases loaded in the ninth and Josh Hamilton coming to
bat as the potential tying run, Rays manager Joe Maddon had the RBI
leader walked to force in a run and help protect the lead.
The victory coupled with Toronto's 15-4 win over Boston gave the
Rays a 4½ game pad over the second-place Red Sox, who lost to
Kazmir (9-6) earned his first win since July 21, giving up four
hits with seven strikeouts and four walks to help the Rays improve
to 20-9 since the All-Star break.
Kazmir won six straight starts in May and June, but has scuffled
lately. Entering Sunday, he had lost three of four decisions and
failed to pitch into the sixth inning in any of his previous four
Maddon pulled Upton during Friday night's game against the
Rangers for failing to run hard on a double-play grounder, and
Maddon kept Upton in the dugout for all of Saturday night's 3-0
loss to Texas.
Maddon said prior to Sunday night's game that he decided to
return Upton to the lineup, "When I had a conversation with him.
There's not a malicious bone in this guy's body. He's a huge part
of our potential. We've got to eradicate that part of the way he
Upton had three hits and Carlos Pena homered for the Rays, who
took two of three from the Rangers and have won seven of nine
Travis Metcalf homered for the Rangers, who've lost nine of 11.
Texas loaded the bases with one out in the ninth and Brandon
Boggs' RBI groundout off Grant Balfour got the Rangers to 7-3.
Balfour walked Michael Young to reload the bases, and in an
unusual move, Maddon ordered Balfour to intentionally walk Hamilton
to force in another run for Hamilton's 114th RBI, narrowing the
deficit to 7-4.
Maddon brought in Dan Wheeler, who was subbing for injured
closer Troy Percival. Wheeler struck out Marlon Byrd swinging for
his fifth save in six chances.
Tampa Bay scored four runs in the third inning against Texas
starter Dustin Nippert (1-3), highlighted by Upton's RBI double and
Pena's three-run homer, his 25th.
The Rangers got a run in the third on Hamilton's RBI double.
Tampa Bay stretched its lead to 7-1 in the fourth on Jason
Bartlett's run-scoring double and Upton's two-run homer, his
Vicente Padilla, who's won a team-high 12 games, was originally
scheduled to start Sunday night, but Padilla's ongoing neck
problems forced the Rangers to bring Nippert out of the bullpen for
his first start of the season and sixth of his career.
Padilla's start was pushed back to Tuesday night against
Detroit. He came through a 45-pitch bullpen session on Sunday
reporting no problems with his neck.
Nippert allowed seven runs and eight hits in four innings.
Metcalf's leadoff homer in the fifth - his second - pulled Texas
Notes: Percival, on the DL with cartilage damage in his right
knee, played catch on Sunday. "I felt good. There was nothing
debilitating," he said. Percival will visit the Rays' team doctor
at home on Monday, with arthroscopic surgery an option. ... Texas
DH Milton Bradley was a late scratch due to back stiffness. He
missed Saturday night's start with sinus problems. Bradley's also
been slowed by a quad injury. ... Rangers INF Hank Blalock's sore
right shoulder prevented him from a pregame infield session.
Blalock, on the 15-day DL since July 29, is still set to begin a
three-game rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on Monday night.
Normally a 3B, Blalock is expected to rejoin the Rangers on Friday
to play 1B with rookie 1B Chris Davis moving to 3B. ...The Rangers
announced an attendance of 18,363 plus 378 canines in the park for
a Dog Day promotion.
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