ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Scott Kazmir kept the Florida
Marlins guessing all day long.
"He had it all going on," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said
Sunday. "Fastball, slider, changeup. Both sides of the plate, up
Kazmir allowed four hits and matched a career-high with 11
strikeouts in eight innings, helping the Devil Rays beat Dontrelle
Willis and the punchless Marlins 3-0 for the young left-hander's
fifth straight win.
At 22, Kazmir is the youngest major league pitcher to win seven
games this early in a season since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.
"He's got great stuff, and he knows how to pitch. He's proved
that," Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been on a roll. I
think he took a few lumps the first half of the season last year.
Since then, he's been as good as anyone in baseball."
Kazmir (7-2) shares the major league lead in wins. He held the
Marlins to three singles and Miguel Cabrera's fourth-inning double
while limiting an opponent to one or fewer earned runs for the
fifth consecutive start.
The lefty walked one and hit a batter before departing after 119
pitches. Tyler Walker worked the ninth for his eighth save in nine
"I felt in a groove the whole game," said Kazmir, who didn't
get his first win last season until May 19.
"This is the best I've felt, by far, definitely. I'm a whole
new pitcher. I'm more comfortable with all of my pitches."
Jonny Gomes keyed a three-run fifth inning with a RBI triple off
Willis (1-5), who allowed eight hits in his first complete game of
The Marlins have lost seven in a row, their longest skid since
losing eight in a row from July 7-18, 2002.
Willis worked out of jams with runners in scoring position in
the first, second and third innings, but couldn't wiggle off the
hook after giving up a one-out single to Julio Lugo in the fifth.
Gomes broke the scoreless tie with his triple to right-center,
then trotted home on Wigginton's RBI single for a 2-0 lead. Norton
finished the inning with a run-scoring single that gave Kazmir
"You could see when he got the lead that he turned it up. To
me, that's the mark of an ace and a winner," Girardi said.
"He's got three out pitches. Whenever you have a starting
pitcher with three out pitches, they're dangerous. They're going to
rack up strikeouts and they're going to go deep into games. You
don't get the same look at them."
Willis, who led the majors last season with 22 victories, has
gone seven consecutive starts without a win. It's the longest such
stretch of his career, and the Marlins are 0-6 in games he's
started on the road.
The Florida left-hander walked three and struck out three in his
second straight solid performance. He allowed a pair of solo homers
in nine innings of a game the Marlins lost in extra innings at
Atlanta last week.
"Unfortunately we weren't able to get him a win," Girardi
said. "But Dontrelle is on the right track."
The complete game was the 12th of Willis' career. ...
Maddon returned to the bench after missing the first two games of
the series to fly to California for his girlfriend's graduation
from law school. ... Only one Marlin had faced Kazmir before
Sunday. C Miguel Olivo, who was not in the lineup, was 0-for-1
lifetime against the Devil Rays lefty. ... Tampa Bay won the first
two games of the series on walk-off homers. Florida has the longest
current streak in the majors without a walk-off home run -- 317
games. The Marlins haven't hit one since May 29, 2004 against the
New York Mets.