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Five-run sixth propels Rays past Cards; Damon passes 'Kid'

Jul 3, 2011 - 6:11 AM St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - Casey Kotchman hit a three-run double in the midst of a five-run sixth inning as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-1, in the continuation of a three-game interleague set at Tropicana Field.

Jeff Niemann (3-4) tossed six-plus innings, allowing one run on nine hits and a walk while fanning five, as the Rays posted their sixth win in nine games.

Johnny Damon finished 4-for-4 and his single in the first inning was the 2,655th hit of his career, moving him ahead of Ted Williams into sole possession of 71st on the all-time hit list.

"Ted Williams, to many, is the greatest hitter of all time," Damon said. "Obviously, he could have had more hits. He walked so many times. Spent five years of (military) service to our country."

Kyle McClellan (6-5) was tagged for five runs, all in the sixth, on eight hits and two walks in 5 2/3 frames.

Lance Berkman homered for the Cardinals' lone run as they saw their four-game win streak snapped.

"We had some opportunities," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "Whether we should have done better or they just pitched us really well, that was the name of the game."

Berkman broke the scoreless tie in the fourth when he led off the inning with a home run into the right-field bleachers. The Cardinals then loaded the bases with one out on singles by David Freese, Yadier Molina and Daniel Descalso. But they could not push another run across because Skip Schumaker grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning, keeping it a 1-0 game.

McClellan cruised through the first five innings, allowing just one runner to reach second, but that all fell apart when he struggled in the sixth.

Damon led off the frame with a base hit and Ben Zobrist followed with a walk. An Evan Longoria fly out and a Matt Joyce fielder's choice put runners on the corners with two down, but that would be the last out McClellan would get.

B.J. Upton worked a free pass to load the bases and Kotchman then pulled a base-clearing double down the first-base line. Justin Ruggiano came up next and hammered a ball over the left-center field fence, giving the Rays a 5-1 advantage and knocking McClellan off the mound.

St. Louis tried to rally in the seventh after Niemann allowed back-to-back singles by Schumaker and Nick Punto to start the inning. But they would not advance any further after Cesar Ramos replaced Niemann and got Jon Jay out on a fly ball to left. Juan Cruz entered next, and induced an inning-ending double play by Matt Holliday.

Game Notes

Schumaker extended his hit streak to 11 games...McClellan remained winless in his four starts since returning from the disabled list...Niemann's win was his first at home this season, going 0-3 in his last four starts at the Trop...Tampa improved to 11-6 and St. Louis fell to 8-6 in interleague play this season.