Rays Report

Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria and Eric Hinske each hit three-run homers Friday as the suddenly offensive Rays won their fourth straight. After struggling to score runs in last weekend's series with Houston, the Rays have rung up 37 in their last four games and improved to 48-31.

The Rays were not happy that second baseman Akinori Iwamura's appeal to his have three-game suspension stemming from the June 5 brawl in Boston reduced was denied.

And they were flat out unhappy to find out that Red Sox outfielder Coco Crisp, whom they considered the instigator, had his suspension cut from seven games to five. "First of all, the fact that after the appeal that we made the other day that Aki's suspension was not reduced, I'm kind of baffled by it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I don't agree with it at all. I thought it should have been reduced. I thought it was way too severe, because of the fact that we were reacting to a situation. And then furthermore, the guy that pretty much created the entire moment gets his reduced by two (games). Honestly, none of that makes any sense to me whatsoever."

Rays pitcher James Shields, who hit Crisp with a pitch that led to Crisp charging the mound, didn't think it was right that Crisp got the same punishment as Rays DH Jonny Gomes, who came to Shields' defense.

"I'm not happy about it at all," Shields said. "(Crisp) is the one who charged me. He's the one that instigated the whole thing. I don't agree with it ... but there's nothing we can do about it."

RAYS 10, PIRATES 5: Evan Longoria and Eric Hinske each hit three-run homers Friday as the suddenly offensive Rays won their fourth straight. After struggling to score runs in last weekend's series with Houston, the Rays have rung up 37 in their last four games and improved to 48-31.

Notes

--1B Carlos Pena returned to the Rays lineup after having been sidelined since June 4 with a fractured left index finger. Manager Joe Maddon dropped Pena, who had been struggling before getting hurt, to sixth in the order from the cleanup spot he previously occupied. He went 0-for-3 but drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

--INF Ben Zobrist, who homered in back-to-back games this week for the first time in his major league career, was optioned back to Class AAA Durham to make room for 1B Carlos Pena's return from the DL. Zobrist was called up to fill in for two days so SS Jason Bartlett could attend the birth of his first child. --INF Willy Aybar is expected to start at second base Saturday, Sunday and Monday after 2B Akinori Iwamura's three-game suspension was upheld by Major League Baseball. Iwamura will have to start serving the ban Saturday.

--LHP Scott Kazmir worked three impressive innings before running into trouble in the fourth, but he hung around through five and picked up the victory, improving to 7-3.

--LF Carl Crawford continued his recent hot streak with three hits, including his third homer of the week. In nine games since coming off his four-game suspension, Crawford is 15-for-38 with four homers and 11 RBIs.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- Number of walk-off wins by the Rays, matching Cincinnati for the major-league most.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's no more wondering. Now we know we can win games ... regardless of how we have to win." -- RHP Edwin Jackson.

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