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Joyce's slam helps Rays overcome Braves

May 20, 2012 - 3:13 AM St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - Matt Joyce smacked a grand slam in the third inning, lifting the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-2 win over the Atlanta Braves in the middle test of a three-game interleague series.

Sean Rodriguez added a solo homer and Alex Cobb (1-0), who made his season debut, surrendered two runs on six hits and two walks to go with six strikeouts in seven strong innings for Tampa Bay, which has won five of its last seven contests.

"Cobb did a terrific job...He kept us off-balance and did a nice job to get the game to their two guys in the bullpen," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Randall Delgado (2-4) was charged with four runs on three hits and five walks in four frames for Atlanta, which fell to 6-11 without Chipper Jones in the lineup this season.

Jones missed the tilt with a left calf contusion, suffered on Friday when B.J. Upton stung a hard one-hop infield single off his leg in the third inning.

Atlanta struck first with a pair of runs in the second inning. Three consecutive singles from Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Juan Francisco got the Braves on the board and with runners on the corners and none away, Eric Hinske lined a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 2-0.

The Rays, though, plated four in the third frame. A pair of walks by Elliot Johnson and Upton, sandwiched around Chris Jimenez's single and Ben Zobrist's groundout, brought up Joyce with the bags full and one out.

Joyce pounced on a 2-0 fastball that hovered low and over the heart of the plate and drilled it over the wall in straightaway center to give the Rays a 4-2 advantage.

"Usually when a pitcher falls behind 2-0, they're going to try and throw a strike," Joyce said of the grand slam. "That's exactly what I was looking for...It was a good pitch to hit and I hit it well."

Cristhian Martinez relieved Delgado in the sixth frame and was immediately welcomed by Rodriguez, who belted a moonshot over the wall in left to up the Rays margin.

Joel Peralta worked a 1-2-3 eighth frame and Fernando Rodney retired the side in order in the ninth to pick up his 13th save of the year.

Game Notes

The Rays have lost four of their last six at Tropicana Field on the heels of a 10-game home winning streak. The Rays, though, still own the best home mark in the AL at 15-5...The Rays optioned pitcher Josh Lueke to Triple-A Durham to make room for Saturday's starter, Cobb...Atlanta is 19-5 with Jones in the lineup this season.

  • ATLANTA: 2
    TAMPA BAY: 5

    May 19 7:00 PM

  • Sean Rodriguez lead-off Home Run (4) to left. Will Rhymes due up.

    Braves 2, Rays 5  Bot 6, 0 OutsMay 19 6:13 PM
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    Braves 2, Rays 4  Mid 6May 19 6:10 PM

  • Matt Joyce one-out, Grand Slam (8) to center scored Elliot Johnson, Chris Gimenez and B.J. Upton. Carlos Pena due up.

    Braves 2, Rays 4  Bot 3, 1 OutMay 19 5:16 PM
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    Braves 2, Rays 4  Bot 3, 1 OutMay 19 5:16 PM

  • Eric Hinske sacrifice fly to left scored Jason Heyward. Runner on first with one out and Tyler Pastornicky due up.

    Braves 2, Rays 0  Top 2, 1 OutMay 19 4:36 PM
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    Braves 2, Rays 0  Top 2, 1 OutMay 19 4:36 PM

  • Juan Francisco singled to center scored Brian McCann. On the play, Jason Heyward advances to third. Runners on first and third with none out and Eric Hinske due up.

    Braves 1, Rays 0  Top 2, 0 OutsMay 19 4:34 PM

  • ATLANTA: 0
    TAMPA BAY: 0
    Top 1, 0 Outs

    May 19 4:11 PM