Marlins 14, Devil Rays 8

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MIAMI (AP)—The Tampa Bay Devil Rays lost more than a six-run lead. They lost their center fielder, their catcher and another game, too.

Jeremy Hermida hit a grand slam to start Florida’s rally, Hanley Ramirez had four hits and the Marlins beat the Devil Rays 14-8 on a bizarre Friday night in South Florida.

“This team has an attitude all the time of never-say-die,” Hermida said. “Especially in the second, third and fourth innings, we knew we had a lot of game left.”

The Devil Rays struck out 13 Marlins, but walked 11. They had three relievers combine for an ERA of 43.20—yes, 43.20—in their first 1 2-3 innings of work, before the team turned to infielder Josh Wilson to throw a scoreless eighth inning.

Not bad, considering he hadn’t pitched since high school.

Other than that, it was a night for the Devil Rays to forget.

“It’s unfortunate to waste that kind of an offensive night,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s really annoying, actually.”

The Marlins trailed 8-2 after four innings, then scored 12 unanswered runs and reached .500 for the first time since May 4.

Hermida’s slam came in the fifth and the Marlins scored three in the sixth to take the lead—with the go-ahead run coming after Tampa Bay catcher Dioner Navarro left the game strapped to a backboard after taking an errant pitch in the throat. Navarro was taken to Broward General, where he was being kept overnight.

“He’s fine. I can’t give you more specifics than that, just that he’s going to be fine,” Maddon said.

With Josh Willingham batting, Brian Stokes’ 1-1 offering bounced and caught Navarro directly under his mask. He was tended to for several minutes by medical personnel from both teams and eventually carted off by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue workers.

Willingham hit a bases-loaded triple in the seventh, while Miguel Cabrera and Dan Uggla each had two hits and drove in two runs for Florida.

Ty Wigginton had three hits, including his 11th home run, for the Devil Rays. Brendan Harris continued his breakout season with three RBIs for Tampa Bay, which got three hits from Delmon Young. The Devil Rays lost center fielder B.J. Upton to a strained left quadriceps on a first-inning groundout, and he’ll be evaluated again Saturday.

Wilson was the Rays’ best reliever—and he’s an infielder. Wilson was a shortstop and pitcher during his high school days in Pennsylvania and threw a scoreless eighth inning, after Maddon asked him if he was willing to throw.

The former Marlins’ farmhand who once roomed with Florida ace Dontrelle Willis at Double-A Carolina became the second Tampa Bay position player to pitch; Wade Boggs did it on Aug. 10, 1999, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

“That was a big lift for us,” Maddon said, noting his bullpen is simply worn out these days.

Navarro’s injury cleared deflated the Devil Rays.

Stokes (2-6) was taken out after the delay and his replacement, Tim Corcoran, simply couldn’t find the plate. Corcoran managed only one strike out of his first 11 pitches, a bases-loaded walk to Aaron Boone brought Cabrera home with the go-ahead run, and it only got worse for Tampa Bay from there.

Justin Miller (2-0) got the win for Florida after throwing one scoreless inning.

The Rays blew a big lead for the second time in four games; they led by five runs in the ninth at Toronto on Tuesday before falling 12-11.

“It was weird. … But we won the game,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Tampa Bay left 12 runners on base, didn’t score after having the bases loaded with no outs in the sixth, and were denied again with the bases full in the seventh after Marlins reliever Taylor Tankersley—brought in for a lefty-lefty matchup—got Carlos Pena to line out to Hermida in right field.

Rain delayed the start by 1 hour, 26 minutes, but the Devil Rays clearly didn’t mind the wait.

Tampa Bay scored four two-out runs in the first off Byung-Hyun Kim, who gave up seven runs—six earned—in 2 2-3 innings. Wigginton, Young and Harris all had RBIs in the first, and another run came across when Young’s single skipped away from Marlins center fielder Reggie Abercrombie.

Florida cut the deficit in half on Uggla’s two-run single in the second, but Tampa Bay scored three more in the third, two of those coming on a single by Harris. The Rays’ lead grew to 8-2 in the fourth when Wigginton led off with a homer to left.

Tampa Bay starter J.P. Howell allowed eight hits and six runs in five innings, but struck out a career-high nine.

“We played well early and we had a nice lead, but we need to keep it going for the entire game,” Howell said.

Notes

Tampa Bay was seeking its first three-game road winning streak since Sept. 25-28, 2005. … Both of Florida’s grand slams this season are against Tampa Bay; Boone hit the other on May 18. … Elijah Dukes replaced Upton and went 0-for-3, making him 0-for-24 in June. … Hermida’s other slam was memorable; on Aug. 31, 2005, he was the first player in major league history to turn his first at-bat into a pinch-hit grand slam. … The first inning took 36 minutes, as Kim and Howell combined to throw 67 pitches.

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