Final Score: Cleveland 9, Tampa Bay 3
St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – Jayson Nix continued his torrid pace with his sixth home run in seven games, and the Cleveland Indians beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-3, to even a four-game series at Tropicana Field.
Nix, who hit his 19th career homer, had hit only 13 other home runs in 147 career games prior to this unprecendented stretch, as the Indians snapped a three-game losing streak. Jhonny Peralta added three hits, including a three- run homer, in the win.
Matt LaPorta, who missed the last three games with a head contusion, continued his hot streak with a three-hit game. LaPorta, who was the key part of the deal that sent CC Sabathia to Milwaukee in 2008, has batted .382 with four homers and 10 RBI in 10 games since his recall on June 27.
Fausto Carmona (8-7), in his final start before heading to the All-Star Game, gave up two runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts in 6 2/3 frames to earn the win.
Carlos Pena homered and drove in two runs for the Rays, who had a six-game win streak halted. James Shields (7-9) continued to struggle, yielding four runs and six hits in 6 1/3 to take the loss. The righty has gone 2-8 in his last 10 games with a 6.87 earned run average.
The Indians took the early lead with two runs in the second.
Travis Hafner was hit by a pitch, and Peralta moved him to second with a one- out single. LaPorta followed with another base hit, scoring Hafner, and Peralta moved to third on a balk and scored on a wild pitch for a 2-0 advantage.
The Rays got one back in the third with a two-out rally, as Evan Longoria walked on four pitches, stole second and raced around to score on Pena’s single.
Nix restored Cleveland’s two-run cushion in the fifth with yet another home run — a solo shot with two outs.
Tampa Bay threatened to come back in the seventh, knocking Carmona out of the game.
Carmona retired the first two batters, but was lifted after a walk to Carl Crawford. Chris Perez came in and issued three straight walks, the last to Matt Joyce to force in the second run. Perez, though, recovered to strike out John Jaso on three pitches to maintain a 4-2 lead.
Peralta then cemented the Indians’ win in the top of the eighth, following base hits from Carlos Santana and Austin Kearns with a home run to left for a five-run cushion.
Jason Donald’s RBI double later in the frame extended the lead, and Kearns’ RBI ground-rule double in the ninth made it 9-2.
Pena’s solo blast with two outs in the ninth accounted for the final margin.
Tampa Bay still leads the season series, 3-1… The Indians have recorded an extra base hit in 35 straight games, the longest active streak in the AL… Shields is 0-4 lifetime against the Indians… The Rays are 34-66 all-time against Cleveland, their worst mark against any AL opponent… Shields struck out nine.