Marlins 14, Rays 9
Forget the sloppy eighth and ninth innings. The Florida Marlins won the opener of the Citrus Series, and that was enough for manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Anibal Sanchez pitched seven solid innings and Gaby Sanchez homered twice and drove in a career-high six runs Friday night, leading the Marlins a 14-9 victory over Tampa Bay and trimming the Rays' lead in the AL East to one game over the New York Yankees.
Florida committed three errors after their starting pitcher departed with a 10-run lead, allowing the team with baseball's best record - though not by much - to make it interesting late.
``That eighth and ninth inning we made some mistakes. But other than that, hey, we got through it,'' Gonzalez said.
``We won, and I don't think anybody got hurt. We'll take it. We won't give it back and we won't play it again. That's a very good club over there. If you give them opportunities you're going to have to do what we did to beat them.''
The Marlins beat their intrastate rivals for just the third time in 13 tries over the past three seasons, handing Rays starter James Shields (5-5) his fourth consecutive loss while Anibal Sanchez (6-3) won for the fifth time in six starts.
Tampa Bay's division lead is its smallest May 15.
Gaby Sanchez had four hits, including a three-run homer off Shields, who matched a career high by allowing 10 runs over 3 1-3 innings - the right-hander's shortest outing of the season. The Marlins first baseman also had a sacrifice fly in the fifth and two-run homer in the seventh.
Anibal Sanchez yielded a two-run double to B.J. Upton and a solo homer to Carlos Pena, who tied a Rays record by going deep for the fifth consecutive game. Pena, who's batting .196, has six homers during the streak.
The Marlins went 1-5 against Tampa Bay each of the past two seasons, and the Rays have won seven of the last nine series between the teams at Tropicana Field, where the first of this year's six interleague meetings drew a crowd of 19,338.
Florida's Chris Coghlan went 4 for 4 with two walks and drove in a run, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.
Gaby Sanchez's second homer, a two-run shot off Andy Sonnanstine, put Florida up 14-3.
``It's definitely nice. But today's over and now we've got to work for tomorrow and hopefully keep it rolling,'' Sanchez said.
``It was one of those games I got some pitches, and I was able to put some swings on them. I'm definitely not going up there trying to hit a home run. They just kind of happen.''
Tampa Bay scored once in the seventh and four times in the eighth, when Hank Blalock had a two-run single off Rick VandenHurk and the Marlins helped the Rays by dropping two popups for errors. A third error allowed another run to score in the ninth.
Anibal Sanchez allowed four runs and seven hits. He walked three and struck out four, breezing for the most part after Florida scored five runs in the third and four more in the fourth.
The Marlins loaded the bases in the third on two walks and Gaby Sanchez's bunt single that Shields couldn't field. The Rays starter looked like he might wiggle off the hook when Hanley Ramirez struck out and Jorge Cantu popped to right, but the third out was much more difficult to get.
Shields walked Dan Uggla on a 3-2 pitch, driving in a run to make it 2-0. Ross followed with a two-run single and Mike Stanton, who had three hits in his big league debut on Tuesday, finished the five-run inning by lining a two-run triple into the gap in right-centerfield.
``We were one pitch away from keeping it'' 1-0,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ``It just didn't work out for us.''
Sanchez's first homer made it 9-0. Ross drove in the final run charged to Shields with his fourth-inning single off Sonnanstine.
During his losing streak, Shields has allowed 25 runs and 34 hits over 23 2-3 innings. Most of the damage has come in his last three starts.
``It's unacceptable the way I'm pitching right now,'' Shields said. ``I'm letting my team down and not giving them a chance to win.''
NOTES: The Marlins set a season-high with 14 runs. They had 15 hits, three off their season high. ... Jose Canseco homered in five straight games for the Rays from May 16-21, 1999. ... Maddon continues to tinker with his batting order. C John Jaso batted leadoff for the third time and Pena, who is emerging from a season-long slump, was moved back into the cleanup spot he occupied earlier in the season. ... Rays first-round draft pick Justin O'Connor (No. 31 overall) attended the game. He has agreed to a contract and will report to the minors next week.