ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—The Tampa Bay Devil Rays gave manager Lou Piniella five reasons to believe he finally found the right lineup.
Tampa Bay started the night last in the AL in runs and was averaging just 2.8 per game in its previous 17 games.
“Five solo shots were just enough,” Piniella said. “The lineup we played today, I like. It’s the one you’re going to see out there more often.”
The Devil Rays tied it in the seventh after trailing 4-1, then Martinez led off the ninth with his fifth homer of the season into the right-field seats off Jeff Nelson (0-2).
“We came up together in the minors, and I know he’s tough,” Martinez said. “He’s got good stuff. I managed to get the good part of the bat on it. It was a fastball in. I was just trying to it hard and it went out of the park.”
“This season, the team, me, it’s a constant work in progress,” said Blum, who didn’t have a homer or RBI until Tuesday. “Hopefully, this will be contagious.”
Lance Carter (1-1) pitched a hitless eighth inning for the win.
“Blalock meant business up there,” Piniella said. “That last pitch by Baez exploded to the plate. It was a great major league pitch.”
Mark Teixeira homered for the Rangers, whose eight-game home winning streak was stopped.
Tampa Bay starter Victor Zambrano allowed four runs and five hits over seven innings. He struck out eight, walked five and threw a career-high 134 pitches.
Rangers starter Chan Ho Park left with a 4-3 lead with two outs in the sixth, having given up six hits. Park struck out five and walked three.
Texas is trying to get more out of Park than last season, when he was limited to seven starts due to back problems.
“Chan Ho kept us close and pitched his way through it,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “He gave us a chance to win. He’s looking for that consistency. He’s competing and that’s what I’m proud of. He’s got the health to compete this year.”
Lugo’s solo shot in the first gave Tampa Bay the lead. Teixeira tied it in the second tied with his homer.
Texas went in front 2-1 in the third when Gerald Laird scored from third when Blalock grounded into a double play.
Laird’s two-out, two-run single in the fourth stretched Texas’ lead to 4-1.
Blum’s leadoff homer in the fifth and Martinez’s solo shot in the sixth pulled Tampa Bay within 4-3.
The Devil Rays were the victims of an odd double play in the sixth. While Jose Cruz Jr. attempted to steal second, Robert Fick struck out swinging. Fick’s follow-through obscured the vision of Laird, the Rangers’ catcher. That limited Laird’s ability to throw to second, where Cruz was safe. Home plateumpire Jerry Layne called Cruz out on catcher’s interference.
Mariners pitching coach Chuck Hernandez was taken to the Arlington Medical Center before the start of the game because he had swelling in his right calf, and team trainers feared that he might have a blood clot. Tests were negative and Hernandez returned to The Ballpark, where he remained in the clubhouse applying ice to his leg for the rest of the game. … Blum had his third career multihomer game and second from both sides of the plate. … Martinez had his 20th multihomer game. … Rangers CF Nix was back in the lineup after missing four consecutive games due to inflammation in his left big toe. … Tampa Bay’s Aubrey Huff played in his 300th consecutive game, second-longest active streak in the majors behind Baltimore’s Miguel Tejada(618). …Tampa Bay had a season high for homers.