Garko has five RBIs to help Indians beat Rays
CLEVELAND (AP)—Tampa Bay’s latest loss was Matt Ginter’s first big league win in more than four years.
The good news for the Rays is they finally score some runs in Cleveland.
Ginter pitched five-hit ball for five innings, Ryan Garko got his first extra-base hit in more than a month and had five RBIs and the Indians handed Tampa Bay its season-high sixth straight loss Saturday night, 8-4.
Tampa Bay has seen its AL East lead of five games dwindle to a half game over Boston.
The Rays were scoreless for 22 innings over three games in Cleveland until Cliff Floyd delivered a two-run single with two outs in the eighth inning off reliever Juan Rincon. All-Star Dioner Navarro doubled home two more off Masa Kobayashi to make it 7-4.
“Hopefully, that (rally) breaks it open for tomorrow,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We had the fight to come back.”
All-Star Grady Sizemore hit his AL-leading 23rd homer for Cleveland, which has dominated the Rays at home since they dropped two of three games to Tampa Bay to fall out of the 2005 AL Central race. Tampa Bay is 0-12 at Progressive Field since then.
Ginter (1-0) had not pitched in the majors since a week before that series against the then Devil Rays. The right-hander’s contract was purchased by the Indians from their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo on Saturday. Cleveland needed a starter to take the rotation spot vacated by CC Sabathia, who was traded to Milwaukee on Monday for four prospects.
“It was just a great effort,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said of the 30-year-old, who was 6-6 with a 4.14 ERA at Buffalo. “He’s been throwing the ball very well the last month. Tonight, he used all his pitches.”
Ginter, 5-2 over his last 10 starts in the minors, did not walk a batter. He also tied a career high with five strikeouts in his first big league start since Sept. 18, 2005, for Detroit. He last won with the New York Mets on May 21, 2004, and hadn’t beaten an AL club since a win at Cleveland on July 26, 2001, for the Chicago White Sox.
“You’ve got a uniform on, you’ve got a chance,” Ginter said of his long wait to get back to the bigs. “I left 17 tickets for family and friends and it was rewarding to do well.”
Garko snapped a 9-for-61 (.148) slump with a two-run homer in the second and three-run double in the third off Matt Garza (7-5).
With two outs and David Dellucci on first after a single, Garko hit a high fastball over the center of the plate into the left-field seats for his seventh homer.
“Garza’s got a good sinker and you have to take advantage of a mistake because he doesn’t make many,” Garko said of his first extra-base hit in 82 at-bats since a three-run homer at Detroit on June 9.
Garko didn’t play in the first two games against the Rays.
“I didn’t just sit around reading magazines,” the first baseman said. “I put in a lot of work with (hitting coach) Derek Shelton. I had hit some line drives even before that, but they went right at somebody. It feels good to finally get some results.”
Franklin Gutierrez then singled for his first hit since June 15, breaking an 0-for-32 streak. He scored on Sizemore’s homer to center for a 4-0 lead.
Singles by Jhonny Peralta, Casey Blake and Dellucci loaded the bases to open the third. With one out, Garko sent a blooper to right-center that fell for a three-run double. Both Gabe Gross in center and Eric Hinske in right dived for the ball, which bounced between them as they slid along the grass, still moist from a mid-afternoon rain.
Tampa Bay must win Sunday to complete the first half with the majors’ best record at the All-Star break after having the worst record a year ago.
“Collectively, we’re not getting it done,” Floyd said. “Hopefully, this is a good learning experience for us.”
The Rays could become the fourth team to be in first place at the break a year after having the worst overall record. Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs did it in 2001, as did the 1989 Baltimore Orioles.
“I’m not worried about the break,” Maddon said. “It would be nice to get a win before it.”
3B Evan Longoria was the only right-handed hitter to start for the Rays. OF B.J. Upton, in a 7-for-34 slump, was rested. “I think he’s pressing a bit,” Maddon said. … Peralta is batting .354 (35-for-99) with 20 RBIs in his last 24 games. … Francisco went 2-for-2 with three walks and has hit .556 (10-for-18) with five RBIs in his last five games. … Rays RHP Troy Percival (strained left hamstring) threw 26 pitches off the mound Saturday. … Rays RHP Al Reyes (shoulder tendinitis) is scheduled to pitch on a minor-league rehab assignment both Sunday and Monday.