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Rays offense shows spark


Rays offense shows spark
Upton, Navarro star in comeback victory.

By TONY FABRIZIO

afabrizio@tampatrib.com

ST. PETERSBURG - When the Rays envision themselves recovering from their slow start, they see B.J. Upton and Dioner Navarro being the pieces of the offense they were in 2008.

They caught a glimpse of that Tuesday, with Upton driving in the go-ahead run and Navarro going 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored in a come-from-behind 6-3 victory against the Orioles.

Without their contributions, the Rays (12-16) probably wouldn't be taking the promise of a 4-2 homestand into a seven-game road trip to New York, Boston and Baltimore.

"It's been a long time coming," Upton said after breaking a career-long 0-for-20 slump with a two-out RBI double in the seventh. "Finally, to do something to lift this team up feels good."

Upton, a career .277 hitter who batted .321 in the American League Championship Series last year, raised his average to .157, while Navarro, a .295 hitter last season, pushed his to .179.

Manager Joe Maddon had patiently stayed with Upton at the leadoff spot and steadfastly defended Navarro, even as his defense also slumped.

"You've got these two dynamic players that have really not been at their level yet, but they will be," Maddon said. "And a big part of that is showing support and making sure that they hear your voice and letting them know that you're on their side."

Speaking of dynamic, Carl Crawford was the definition of that in the first inning when he stole second base and wound up scoring because of throwing errors by catcher Gregg Zaun and center fielder Adam Jones.

Matt Garza (3-2) gave up a two-run homer to Brian Roberts in the third inning and a solo shot to Zaun in the fourth, but kept his team close and pitched into the ninth inning. Evan Longoria drove in three runs to bring his major league-leading RBI total to 34.

(CHART) Rays NUMBERS

20

Consecutive at-bats without a hit for B.J. Upton before his go-ahead double in the seventh inning

14

RBIs - along with three homers, 10 hits and a .400 batting average - for Evan Longoria during the six-game homestand

8

Consecutive games with at least one steal for Carl Crawford, who had 11 during the homestand and leads the majors with 19

3

Pitches - all strikes - by Troy Percival against the lone batter he faced to pick up his fourth save of the season

2

Hits by Dioner Navarro who entered the game in a 5-for-46 slump but raised his batting average from .160 to .179

6

Career victories without a loss against the Orioles for Rays starter Matt Garza

Photo credit: Tribune photo by JASON BEHNKEN

Photo: Dioner Navarro celebrates after hitting his sixth-inning double off Baltimore pitcher Koji Uehara. Navarro scored moments later on Evan Longoria's double to tie the game at 3, and the Rays went on to the victory that gave them a 4-2 mark on their homestand.

Copyright ? 2009, The Tampa Tribune and may not be republished without permission. E-mail library@tampatrib.com


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 7, 2009

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