Rays suffer another injury blow in loss to Marlins
With one out and the bases loaded in the 11th inning, Florida's Ross Gload waited to bat while the Tampa Bay Rays set their defense.
Right fielder Ben Zobrist trotted in to grab a smaller glove, then took a spot near second base as a fifth infielder. Left fielder Carl Crawford moved to right field, and center field B.J. Upton went to left.
"You can't overanalyze it, because it's too crazy," Gload said.
The alignment failed to foil Gload. He lined a two-strike sinker through the right side of the infield for a game-winning single, and the Marlins snapped a four-game losing streak by beating Tampa Bay 5-4.
"The 5-2 defense - I'm going to recommend that for the New York Jets," Gload said. "You're just trying to hit the ball hard. If I could control where the ball went, I would be a lot better than I am."
The Rays played with five infielders at the end after losing their second baseman in the eighth. Akinori Iwamura hurt his left knee when hit while trying to turn a double play and was carted off the field. He was to fly back to St. Petersburg, Fla., to undergo an MRI.
With the score 4-all, Jorge Cantu led off Florida's 11th with a pinch-hit single against Lance Cormier (0-1). Jeremy Hermida singled off Brian Shouse to put runners at the corners with one out, and Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked.
Gload followed with his hit.
"We were just trying to get a groundball and get a double play," Shouse said. "That was the whole goal. It didn't work out."
With Gload's single, Florida finished 5 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Tampa Bay went 1 for 11.
The Marlins had lost eight in a row at home to the Rays, and were outscored 25-5 in the first two games of the series.
Florida improved to 9-24 since an 11-1 start.
"We needed this," said Josh Johnson, who pitched seven innings and left with a 4-3 lead. "It just takes one win, and hopefully we can turn it around and get that feeling of winning again. We have a great team. We know we're a lot better than we've been playing."
Florida nearly let another game slip away, squandering leads of 3-0 and 4-3. John Baker had three of the Marlins' 17 hits, including a home run, and Gload and Chris Coghlan also had three hits apiece.
The game was delayed six minutes in the eighth while trainers tended to Iwamura, who was hurt when Coghlan slid into him.
With the score 4-all, runners at first and second and one out in the eighth inning, Wes Helms hit a one-hopper to pitcher Dan Wheeler, who spun and threw to second. Iwamura took the throw for a forceout, and was ready to throw to first with his left foot planted when Coghlan arrived.
The collision sent Iwamura tumbling to the turf. Shortstop Jason Bartlett took the ball from Iwamura's glove and threw home, where catcher Dioner Navarro tagged out Baker trying to score.
Bartlett said Coghlan did nothing wrong.
"From the marks that were by second base, if it were our player sliding, I'd probably high-five him," Bartlett said. "That's what you're taught to do: Break up the double play."
After the game, Coghlan went into the Rays clubhouse and told Iwamura he was sorry about the injury.
"I felt awful that he got injured," said Coghlan, a rookie. "I hope he's OK. I was just playing the game the right way."
Johnson allowed three runs and six hits, and he had an RBI single in the Marlins' three-run second inning. Florida's Matt Lindstrom walked the bases loaded in the ninth, but Kiko Calero came on to retire Zobrist on an inning-ending groundout. Brian Sanches (1-0) pitched a perfect 11th.
The result ended the Rays' three-game winning streak.
"Listen, man," manager Joe Maddon said. "When your group goes out and plays that hard every night, and you fight to the last out, I love it."
Johnson said he has a small blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand, but it didn't bother him. ... Bartlett sprained his left ankle in the 10th inning and said he doesn't think the injury is serious. He had already been slated to take Monday off at Cleveland. ... Rays DH Pat Burrell, who is on the disabled list with a strained neck, will rejoin the team Monday and may be activated as early as Tuesday, Maddon said. ... Ramirez is tied for the NL lead among shortstops with only two errors after committing more than 20 in each of his first three seasons.