Rays show in-state rival Marlins who's boss

BY foxsports • May 23, 2009

Andy Sonnanstine came to the plate five times Friday night, a reflection of how well he pitched - and how well his teammates hit.

Sonnanstine allowed only five baserunners and one run in six innings, and the Tampa Bay Rays had three homers among their 17 hits to beat the Florida Marlins 15-2.

"I love playing interleague," said Sonnanstine, who singled, walked and scored twice. "It's an opportunity for our pitchers to show what we can do at the plate. It was a really fun game."

The Rays scored eight runs in the first two innings off Ricky Nolasco. They batted around in the second inning and again in the third to take a 13-0 lead.

After the game, Nolasco (2-5) was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. The Marlins' opening-day starter, a 15-game winner last year, has an ERA of 9.07.

"We've got to get him fixed," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That's why we're making the move down there - get him a couple of starts, and whatever it takes to get him straightened out."

Gload walked the first two batters but got Dioner Navarro to hit into a double play and allowed no hits or runs.

"I just wanted to put the ball in play," Navarro said. "I knew if I struck out, I wasn't going to hear the end of it."

Gabe Gross hit a two-run homer and a two-run double, and Navarro and Carlos Pena also homered. Jason Bartlett drove in three runs with a double and a bases-loaded walk.

"I know the Marlins' bullpen has been a little bit tired," Maddon said. "That's why it's so important to do what we did to keep them tired. You want to see a bullpen, and you want to see a lot of them."

Sonnanstine said his five plate appearances were the most he has had since Little League. He came into the game with the highest lifetime average of any pitcher with at least 10 at-bats, and is now at .333 (6 for 18).

More important to the Rays, Sonnanstine (3-4) lowered his ERA this season to 6.60.

"I went out there with that big lead attacking hitters, knowing if I make a mistake it's not too bad," the right-hander said. "It takes a lot of the pressure off."

Dale Thayer made his major league debut and allowed one run in three innings for a save.

For Florida, it was a sour start to the annual intrastate Citrus Series. After three innings the Marlins had thrown 119 pitches, and they finished with 225, allowing nine walks.

Tampa Bay's 15 runs matched a season high and were the most allowed by Florida this year.

Nolasco pitched on three days' rest for the first time in his career, and the result was his briefest stint as a starter since Aug. 25, 2006. He was coming off a 76-pitch effort Monday in a game called because of rain.

"I asked him if the ball is going where he wants it to go, and he said, 'Sometimes,"' Gonzalez said. "That's not the answer you want to hear. He's healthy, his miles-per-hour are good. Maybe it's something mechanical. He needs to get a little confidence back."

Gonzalez's rotation has been a disappointment, and the Marlins will turn to a minor leaguer for help Saturday, when left-hander Sean West will be selected from Double-A Jacksonville to make major league debut.

The Marlins will also recall right-hander Chris Leroux from Jacksonville. Reliever David Davidson, who gave up five runs in the third inning, was designated for assignment.

For the Rays, the rout took some sting out of setbacks earlier in the day, when they placed starter Scott Kazmir (quadriceps) and closer Troy Percival (shoulder) on the disabled list.

They won for the sixth time in eight games. With a victory Saturday, the defending AL champions will climb above .500 for the first time since April 13.


The Marlins recalled C Brett Hayes from Triple-A New Orleans, and he singled in his first big league at-bat in the ninth. ... Gonzalez will miss Saturday's game to attend the graduation of his daughter from high school in Atlanta. Bench coach Carlos Tosca will fill in for Gonzalez. ... Former hockey great Gordie Howe threw out the first pitch.

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