Rays
Pirates
4 - 3 Final
  for this game

Sonnanstine sharp as red-hot Rays top Pirates

Jun 29, 2008 - 10:12 PM By Brad Everett PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- The Tampa Bay Rays capped the first half of their season with a win - something the surprising club has become quite familiar with over the first three months of the campaign.

Andy Sonnanstine pitched seven strong innings to win for the third time in four starts as the Rays capitalized on an eighth-inning error en route to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on Sunday.

Coupled with Boston's 3-2 loss to Houston, the victory helped the Rays move past the Red Sox into first place in the American League East Division standings for the first time since June 3. Tampa Bay begins a three-game series against Boston at home Monday.

Shawn Riggans and Willy Aybar both hit home runs for the Rays, who has won 11 of their past 15 games and finished 5-1 on a six-game interleague road swing.

After Carlos Pena led off the eighth inning with a single off Pirates reliever Tyler Yates (3-1), Aybar lined a single to right fielder Xavier Nady, whose throw to third base was off line and got past Jose Bautista, allowing Pena to score.

Aybar went to third on the play and scored two batters later on Riggans' single to give the Rays a 4-2 lead.

"Hits are going to come and go without getting a ton of reps," said Riggans, a back-up catcher who went 3-for-4 with two RBI. "Right now, I'm just trying to keep it simple at the plate. I'm just trying swing at a good pitch and put in the play. That's all I can ask for."

Pittsburgh cut into the lead in the bottom of the inning when pinch hitter Ryan Doumit hit a run-scoring single off Tampa Bay reliever Dan Wheeler, but Rays closer Troy Percival came on in the ninth to earn his 19th save.

"We come to the park every single day expecting to win," Sonnanstine said. "Last year, if we were tied 2-2 in the middle of the game, it almost felt like we were down a couple of runs. But not with this team. We feel like we can do some pretty major things."

The win boosted the Rays to a 49-32 mark at the season's midpoint, easily surpassing the club's record mark of 40-41 set in 2004. A season ago, Tampa Bay didn't win its 49th game until August 24.

"I'm not going to sit here and say I expected us to be here at this particular place in the standings at this time of the year, but we have played very well," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's been an anonymous first half.

"Nobody has really stood out. There's no one guy having a killer season, which furthermore makes it even more important to me that we're at this juncture being in the place that we are, knowing that somebody is going to turn into a beast in the second half."

Sonnanstine (9-3) upped his record to 5-1 in eight road starts by giving up just two runs - one earned - and five hits. He walked one, struck out four and provided the Rays' bullpen with somewhat of a reprieve after pitching a combined nine innings over the first games of the series, including five in a 4-3, 13-inning loss on Saturday.

"It just felt good coming out of my hand," Sonnanstine said. "I went in there with the mindset I'm going to go as far as I can. Sometimes, that's tough with the National League rules, where the pitchers bat in the lineup. I feel really good about what happened."

The teams traded runs in both the fourth and sixth innings, with the Rays getting home runs from Riggans and Aybar, and the Pirates tallying runs on Jason Bay's sacrifice fly and an RBI groundout by Nate McLouth.

Pirates starter Tom Gorzelanny pitched six innings, allowing two runs, eight hits and two walks, while striking out a season-high eight. The lefthander worked into at least the sixth inning for the sixth consecutive start.

"I felt like I went after guys and threw good pitches and got some good outs," Gorzelanny said. "I made a couple of mistakes, but didn't pay too much for it. Unfortunately, I got the loss."

The Pirates finished 4-4 on an eight-game home stretch against American League foes Toronto, New York and Tampa Bay.

"Obviously, we would have liked to have done better," Pirates manager John Russell said. "A couple of breaks here and there and we could have had a very nice homestand, but you have to like the way the guys competed against some of the better teams in the American League and some of the better pitchers in the American League."








  • ML
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    TAMPA BAY 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 2 0 4 12 1
    PITTSBURGH 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 3 7 2 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: TAM - ANDY SONNANSTINE, DAN WHEELER (8TH), TROY PERCIVAL (9TH) AND
    SHAWN RIGGANS
    PIT - TOM GORZELANNY, TYLER YATES (7TH), SEAN BURNETT
    (9TH) AND RAUL CHAVEZ

    HOME

    Jun 29 4:35 PM


  • ML
    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY RYAN DOUMIT SCORED JACK WILSON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R DOUMIT ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 4
    PITTSBURGH 3 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: J BAY (.286, 1-FOR-2, SF, RBI)

    Rays 4, Pirates 3  Bot 8, 0 OutsJun 29 4:09 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Rays 4, Pirates 3  Bot 8, 0 OutsJun 29 4:09 PM


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    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY SHAWN RIGGANS SCORED WILLY AYBAR.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, S RIGGANS ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 4
    PITTSBURGH 2 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: J BARTLETT (.253, 2-FOR-3)

    Rays 4, Pirates 2  Top 8, 0 OutsJun 29 3:47 PM
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    Rays 4, Pirates 2  Top 8, 0 OutsJun 29 3:47 PM


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    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    ERROR BY XAVIER NADY ALLOWED CARLOS PENA TO SCORE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, W AYBAR ON THIRD, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 3
    PITTSBURGH 2 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: J GOMES (.206, 0-FOR-3)

    Rays 3, Pirates 2  Top 8, 0 OutsJun 29 3:46 PM
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    Rays 3, Pirates 2  Top 8, 0 OutsJun 29 3:46 PM
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    Rays 2, Pirates 2  Bot 7, 0 OutsJun 29 3:30 PM


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    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY NATE MCLOUTH SCORED JACK WILSON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 2
    PITTSBURGH 2 BOTTOM, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: J BAY (.283, 0-FOR-1, SF, RBI)

    Rays 2, Pirates 2  Bot 6, 0 OutsJun 29 3:18 PM
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    Rays 2, Pirates 2  Bot 6, 0 OutsJun 29 3:18 PM
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    Rays 2, Pirates 1  Bot 6, 0 OutsJun 29 3:12 PM


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    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY WILLY AYBAR (3) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
    6TH OFF TOM GORZELANNY.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 2, PITTSBURGH 1
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: J GOMES (.208, 0-FOR-2)

    Rays 2, Pirates 1  Top 6, 0 OutsJun 29 3:05 PM
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    Rays 1, Pirates 1  Bot 5, 0 OutsJun 29 2:54 PM


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    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY JASON BAY SCORED FREDDY SANCHEZ.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1
    PITTSBURGH 1 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: X NADY (.319, 1-FOR-1)

    Rays 1, Pirates 1  Bot 4, 0 OutsJun 29 2:45 PM


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    AT PITTSBURGH - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY SHAWN RIGGANS (4) TO CENTER WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 4TH OFF TOM GORZELANNY.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 1, PITTSBURGH 0
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: J BARTLETT (.251, 1-FOR-1)

    Rays 1, Pirates 0  Top 4, 0 OutsJun 29 2:33 PM
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    aqualung1 Added 5 roots

    Rays vs. PiratesApr 2 4:32 AM