ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joe Maddon is hopeful the Rays are back to playing championship-caliber baseball.
B.J. Upton homered for the second consecutive day, Matt Garza pitched six effective innings and Tampa Bay beat the Cleveland Indians 4-2 on Saturday."I expect us to get back to the playoffs and I expect that we'll stop making the little mistakes that we didn't make in the past," The Rays manager said.The defending AL champion Rays (18-20) have won 10 of 16.Hours after he completed the Rays' rally from seven runs down with a game-ending drive Friday night for an 8-7 victory over Cleveland, Upton put the Rays ahead 1-0 with his second home run of the season off Carl Pavano in the fourth."B.J.'s homer was big," Maddon said.Upton, who started the season on the disabled list after left shoulder surgery, is hitting .192. However, he has worked recently on the lower half of his batting stance and has seven hits in his last 19 at-bats.Gabe Gross and Akinori Iwamura pulled off a double steal in the fifth, giving Tampa Bay at least one stolen base in 18 straight games, which is the longest stretch in the AL since the New York Yankees had a 19-game run in 1914. Both scored on Jason Bartlett's single to make it 3-0."The double steal really killed me," Pavano said.Bartlett stole second later in the fifth, but left was stranded on base. The Rays have stolen three bases or more in a game 11 times this season.Garza (4-2) gave up two runs and five hits. The right-hander had three strikeouts and four walks."Today was a lucky day," Garza said of getting away with the four walks without too much trouble.Joe Nelson, the third Tampa Bay reliever, worked the ninth for his second save.Maddon opted to use Nelson over closer Troy Percival because of the strong left-handed presence in the Cleveland lineup. Lefty's are hitting .476 against Percival this season.Pavano (3-4) had his three-start winning streak end. He allowed three runs, six hits, two walks and struck out six in five-plus innings.The Indians pulled to 3-2 in the sixth on Jhonny Peralta's RBI double and a sacrifice fly by David Dellucci.Tampa Bay went up 4-2 on Ben Zobrist's RBI double in the eighth.Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fourth, but failed to score when Garza induced a grounder to third from Kelly Shoppach. The Indians went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base."We missed opportunities, and in a tight game like that, that's usually the difference," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said.Victor Martinez went 3 for 4, raising his batting average to .409, for the Indians."He's doing everything he can to help get us going," Wedge said. "He's just been on a mission."
Cleveland plans to call up LHP David Huff from Triple-A Columbus to start Sunday's game. It will be his major league debut. To make room for Huff, the Indians are taking RHP Masa Kobayashi off the roster and would like him to go to Triple-A Columbus, but Kobayashi has the option to reject the assignment. "We're hoping that he'll accept the assignment," Wedge said, "go down there and get ready to work and get himself going." Kobayashi has an 8.38 ERA with no decisions in 10 games this year. ... Rays DH Pat Burrell (neck stiffness) will be re-evaluated Sunday. He had a cortisone shot on Friday. ... Pavano struck out his first four batters. ... Garza threw 40 of his 120 pitches during the sixth.