Rays use brooms on slumping Cubs
Posted: Friday, June 20, 2008 2:51 pm
By: By The Associated Press
It was a day for breaking out the brooms around the majors, with the Tampa Bay Rays leading the sweep parade.
Nine teams completed three-game series sweeps Thursday, none more impressive than the Rays, who polished off the team with baseball’s best record.
Carl Crawford hit his second career grand slam, the biggest blow in Tampa Bay’s seven-run, seventh-inning rally, in an 8-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
“It validates what we’ve been doing. It does give us more confidence. There’s no question about that,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the sweep. “I don’t know how else I can say it. … Hopefully it’s going to catapult us even further.”
Other teams to sweep Thursday were, the Dodgers, who beat Cincinnati 7-4; the Yankees, who beat San Diego 2-1; the Twins, who beat Washington 9-3; the Brewers, who beat Toronto 8-7; the White Sox, who beat Pittsburgh 13-8; the Royals, who beat St. Louis 4-1; the Orioles, who beat Houston 7-5; the Rockies, who beat Cleveland 6-3.
Also, it was Texas 5, Atlanta 4 and Arizona 2, Oakland 1.
At 43-29, the Rays have the third-best record in the majors behind the Cubs and Boston Red Sox. They’re 14 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history and have set a club record for victories before the All-Star break.
The Cubs had been the only team in the majors that hadn’t lost more than two games in a row this season. It looked as though it would remain that way when they chased Rays starter James Shields and took a 3-1 lead in the seventh.
But reliever Carlos Marmol (1-2) opened the door for Tampa Bay’s biggest inning of the season by walking the first two batters he faced, then hitting the next two with pitches to force in a run and depart with the bases loaded.
“He’s been extremely reliable. This sort of came out of nowhere,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “What are you going to do?”
Crawford hit Scott Eyre’s second pitch into the right-field stands, putting Tampa Bay ahead 6-3.
“We’ve been playing good,” Crawford said. “After winning three games like this, it’s going to be hard to argue that we’re not one of the good teams in the league.”
The Cubs are 3-4 since Alfonso Soriano went on the 15-day disabled list with a broken hand, but remain 31/2 games ahead of second-place St. Louis in the NL Central because the Cardinals dropped their third straight to Kansas City on Thursday.
“It’s just been a struggle. We’ve got to piece it together, and we’ve got to keep our heads up and keep going,” said Piniella, whose team returns home today for the start of a weekend series against the crosstown rival White Sox.
Grant Balfour (2-0) pitched 12/3 scoreless innings to get the win. It was the Rays’ third sweep of a first-place team. They also took three straight at home from Boston April 25-27 and the Los Angeles Angels May 9-11.
Royals 4, Cardinals 1
At St. Louis, Zack Greinke and two relievers combined on a two-hitter, and Kansas City completed its first three-game sweep of the Cardinals since 2001.
Mark Teahen missed the cycle by a double and had three RBI for the Royals, who are 7-2 in interleague play despite being in last place in the AL Central at 31-42.
Greinke (6-4) didn’t allow a hit until Rick Ankiel’s 11th homer with two outs in the fourth. He struck out seven, walked one and worked seven or more innings for the ninth time in 15 starts.
Joakim Soria worked his third straight 1-2-3 ninth for his 18th save in 19 chances.
Rangers 5, Braves 4
At Arlington, Texas, Michael Young broke out of a slump with a game-ending RBI single and rookie Brandon Boggs hit a three-run homer as the Rangers rallied twice.
With the score 4-all, Ian Kinsler led off the ninth with a double off Blaine Boyer (1-5). After an out, Young lined a single to right off Jeff Bennett. Kinsler scored without a throw to the plate, and Young, 1-for-31 heading into the ninth, was mobbed on the field by his teammates.
Atlanta’s Chipper Jones went 0-for-4 as his major league-leading batting average (.394) fell below .400 for the first time since April 12.
Jamey Wright (4-2) got two outs for the win.
Orioles 7, Astros 5
At Baltimore, Alex Cintron had three hits, including one of the Orioles’ three home runs, and Houston had its losing streak extended to eight games.
Ramon Hernandez and Aubrey Huff also connected for the Orioles, whose last three-game sweep of an interleague opponent came in June 2005 — at home against Houston.
Brian Burres (6-5) allowed three runs and seven hits in 52/3 innings for the Orioles.
George Sherrill entered with the bases loaded in the ninth and gave up a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring infield hit before retiring Lance Berkman on a short fly ball to earn his 24th save.
Miguel Tejada and Hunter Pence homered for the Astros.
Hernandez and Cintron hit solo homers in the fourth off Shawn Chacon (2-3).
Rockies 6, Indians 3
At Denver, Jorge De La Rosa struck out a career-high 10 and Willy Taveras had three hits to lead Colorado to a sweep of the three-game series.
De La Rosa (2-3) allowed three runs and four hits in six innings. Indians starter Jeremy Sowers (0-2) gave up 10 hits and three earned runs in six innings.
Matt Holliday was 2-for-3 with two RBI and Jeff Baker homered for the third straight game for Colorado, which has won three straight and 11 of 15.
Casey Blake went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run for the Indians, who have lost four of five.
Brian Fuentes pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 13th save.
Yankees 2, Padres 1
At New York, Joba Chamberlain struck out a career-high nine and Alex Rodriguez had another key hit in the Yankees’ seventh straight victory.
Mariano Rivera struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save in 20 chances, completing New York’s second consecutive three-game sweep against a National League team.
Rodriguez, who homered in the previous four games, drove in the tiebreaking run in the sixth with a single off Josh Banks (2-1).
The Padres have dropped five of six.
Chamberlain allowed one run in 52/3 innings. Jose Veras (2-0) relieved Chamberlain and pitched 11/3 innings to earn the win.
Twins 9, Nationals 3
At Minneapolis, Michael Cuddyer hit a two-run triple and reached base all four times up and Glen Perkins won for the first time in five starts as Minnesota completed a three-game sweep.
Perkins (3-2) gave up 10 hits in eight innings, nine were singles.
The Nats scored only six runs in the series after arriving here off a three-game sweep over the Mariners.
Cuddyer walked twice, doubled, scored twice and drove in two. Brian Buscher had two hits and two RBI, giving the Twins their sixth win in eight games.
Washington starter Shawn Hill (1-4) failed to finish the fourth.
Brewers 8, Blue Jays 7
At Milwaukee, Dave Bush took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning before it was broken up by the player he was traded for, and the Brewers held on.
Lyle Overbay opened the eighth by slicing a triple just beyond the reach of diving left fielder Ryan Braun. Bush (3-7) was dealt to the Brewers in 2005 for Overbay.
Joe Inglett hit a two-out grand slam that highlighted the Blue Jays’ six-run rally in the ninth. Salomon Torres struck out Matt Stairs for his 10th save to complete the Brewers’ sweep.
Russell Branyan hit his third homer in three days, a three-run shot, and Prince Fielder had the second inside-the-park homer of his career as the Brewers built an 8-0 lead.
Bush, who began the game with a team-high 5.73 ERA, gave up two hits, struck out two and walked one in eight innings.
White Sox 13, Pirates 8
At Chicago, Jermaine Dye hit two homers, including a seventh-inning grand slam, and drove in six runs as the White Sox finished a three-game sweep.
Orlando Cabrera homered and had four RBIs as the White Sox rallied from a 6-0 deficit. They had 19 hits in a 16-5 win in Tuesday’s series opener and had 15 more Thursday. The White Sox had 37 runs and 44 hits and hit 10 homers in the series.
Phil Dumatrait (3-4), a rookie left-hander for Pittsburgh, worked five-plus innings, yielding 11 hits and nine runs.
Gavin Floyd (8-3) won his fourth straight decision, giving up six hits and seven runs — one earned — in 5 2-3 innings.
Diamondbacks 2, Athletics 1
At Phoenix, Justin Upton hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning for Arizona.
Upton drove a 3-2 pitch from Keith Foulke (0-2) into the pool area in right-center field to open the eighth, his ninth homer. Upton, who was 2-for-13 on the Diamondbacks’ six-game homestand, also doubled and scored Arizona’s other run in the fourth.
Tony Pena (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth. Brandon Lyon got three outs for his 14th straight save.
Arizona left-hander Doug Davis, making his sixth start since returning from cancer surgery, went six innings, allowing one run and three hits with a season-high eight strikeouts.
Dodgers 7, Reds 4
At Cincinnati, Matt Kemp hit a homer and a two-run double, and Eric Stults pitched into the seventh inning in his season debut to lead Los Angeles to the three-game sweep.
The Dodgers arrived in town on a five-game losing streak. They hadn’t won three straight since their three-game sweep of the Reds in Los Angeles from May 19-21.
Aaron Harang (3-10) became the NL’s second 10-game loser, joining San Francisco’s Barry Zito, who has lost 11.
Stults (1-0), who was called up from Triple-A when Brad Penny went on the disabled list with a sore shoulder on Tuesday, took a shutout into the seventh.