Series: Game 2 of 3

Tampa Bay leads 2-0 (as of 5/20)

Game 1: Friday, May 19
in 10
Tampa Bay5
Game 2: Saturday, May 20
Tampa Bay4
Game 3: Sunday, May 21
Tampa Bay3

Marlins 3

(11-30, 8-16 away)

Devil Rays 4

(19-24, 11-11 home)

    7:15 PM ET, May 20, 2006

    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida 

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    FLA 110100000 3 7 1
    TB 000200002 4 7 0

    W: R. Lugo (1-2)

    L: L. Kensing (0-1)

    Marlins' ninth-inning meltdown ties major league record

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Marlins had another ninth-inning meltdown.

    Russell Branyan hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth to give the Tampa Bay Devil Rays a 4-3 victory over the Marlins on Saturday night.

    The Marlins have lost a season-high six straight, and this was the fourth time in five games Florida has led in the ninth only to wind up losing. The Marlins tied a major league record -- set by the Devil Rays from April 25-May 4, 2002 -- for consecutive games lost when taking a lead into the ninth inning.

    "It's really frustrating for all of us right now," losing pitcher Logan Kensing said. "It's not like we're not trying. It's just not falling in place for us. A little luck would help every once in a while."

    Branyan's shot off Kensing (0-1) drove in Travis Lee, who had opened the inning with a double. He sent a 1-1 hanging slider an estimated 422 feet into the right-field stands.

    "You hear it, you don't look and you just walk off the mound," Kensing said.

    Ruddy Lugo (1-2) pitched a scoreless inning for his first major league win.

    The Devil Rays won the series opener Friday when Aubrey Huff hit a leadoff homer in the 10th inning of a 5-4 victory. It is the first time Tampa Bay has hit walkoff homers in consecutive games.

    "You think about it a little bit," Branyan said. "You think if a runner gets on base, you get a chance to be a hero."

    Tampa Bay bench coach Bill Evers filled in for the second consecutive game for manager Joe Maddon, who is expected back Sunday after attending his girlfriend's graduation from law school in California. The Devil Rays won both games with Evers serving in the interim role.

    "I'm going to call Joe and tell him to hurry back," Evers said. "This isn't good for my heart."

    Josh Johnson threw 6 2-3 solid innings and Robert Andino hit a pair of sacrifice flies for the Marlins.

    "It's tough to swallow," Johnson said. "It was tough last night, too."

    Johnson gave up two runs -- one earned -- and five hits. The 22-year-old rookie was looking to go 3-0 in four starts, pitching five innings or more in all of them, since joining the rotation on May 4.

    Josh Willingham put the Marlins up 1-0 with a first-inning infield RBI single. Andino made it 3-0 with sacrifice flies in the second and fourth.

    The Marlins left one runner on base in each of the first eight innings and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

    "We just weren't able to get that big hit," Florida manager Joe Girardi said.

    Lee hit a run-scoring infield single during a two-run fourth that got Tampa Bay within 3-2. The second run scored when second baseman Alfredo Amezaga was charged with an error for an errant throw to first on Lee's hit.

    Johnson has allowed seven runs -- five earned -- over 22 2/3 innings in his past four games. He is the first Marlins starter this season to allow less than three earned runs or less in four consecutive outings.

    Doug Waechter allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. The Devil Rays had lost all seven previous games -- including six starts -- that the right-hander has appeared in this season.

    Game notes

    Tampa Bay has won its first two interleague games. The Devil Rays were 3-15 against the NL last season. ... Florida CF Reggie Abercrombie had his career-high 11-game hitting streak end. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch. ... Waechter hasn't won a game since last Aug. 27. ... Lee is 2-for-31 with runners in scoring position. His first RISP hit of the season came Friday night.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press