The ex-Philadelphia slugger struck early with a two-run shot, then added a third RBI late as Matt Garza(notes) and the Rays beat the Phillies 7-1 Wednesday night in the middle game of a rematch between the participants in last season’s World Series.
Burrell contributed to the Phillies beating the Rays in five games last October, however he’s off to a slow start that’s included a month-long stay on the disabled list since signing with Tampa Bay over the winter.
“It’s fun because I know the team and everything like that. But more importantly for me, it’s just being back on the field and able to contribute and help us win,” he said. “I think that’s No. 1.”
Garza (5-5) shut down Philadelphia’s offense for his first win since May 16 to even the series that’s been a box office bust at half-full Tropicana Field.
Attendance was announced as 18,862, down from the 19,608 that showed up for Tuesday’s opener, won by the Phillies 10-1.
Philadelphia was limited to Greg Dobbs’(notes) fifth-inning single until Jayson Werth(notes) hit an opposite-field solo homer in the seventh, trimming Tampa Bay’s lead to 2-1 and enabling the Phillies to remain the only team in the majors with an extra-base hit in every game this season.
Burrell’s second homer since signing with the Rays—ending a stretch of 33 games and 104 at-bats without a homer—ruined an otherwise strong performance for Joe Blanton(notes) (4-4), who struck out 10 while yielding two runs and six hits in seven-plus innings.
“On a night like tonight, when both pitchers are throwing like that, it’s whoever can put a crooked number on the board. They put two up and got ahead of us,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said.
Garza, 0-3 over his previous six starts, allowed one run and three hits in eight innings. The Rays assured his first win in nearly six weeks with five runs in the eighth, and Burrell drove home the first of them with a bases-loaded fielder’s choice grounder.
Jason Bartlett(notes) followed with a two-run single off Chan Ho Park(notes) to extend his career-best hitting streak to 18 games, tying Quinton McCracken(notes) for the franchise record. Greg Gross finished the Phillies off with a two-run double.
“I got back to what I’ve been talking about, being aggressive,” Garza said. “I went after thses guys with my fastball, and that’s what I’ve been known to do. I got back to who I was, and that’s throwing the heater and saying: `Hey, beat me at this.”’
There was a time when the 25-year-old might have fallen apart in such situations, however he kept his emotions in check and escaped without allowing a run by getting Werth to ground into a first-pitch double play (third to home to first) and fanning Matt Stairs(notes).
Hitless up to that point, the Phillies broke through when Dobbs lined the first pitch of the fifth inning to right field. Garza didn’t allow another baserunner until Werth’s 13th homer on a 3-2 pitch with one out in the seventh.
“He was very aggressive. … He definitely contained us,” Manuel said.
Burrell, who spent the first nine seasons of his career in Philadelphia, signed a $16 million, two-year contract with the Rays in January after not being offered a new deal by the Phillies.
He homered in Tampa Bay’s home opener on April 13 and had not hit another since, although the drought included a 29-game stay on the DL with a neck strain that’s prevented him from settling into his new role as a designated hitter.
“I said hello to him (before the game),” Manuel said. “He starts hitting like that, I will never say hello to him.”
NOTES: Rays 3B Evan Longoria(notes) left the game after the sixth inning as a precaution after feeling “slight soreness” in his left hamstring. He and Maddon said they don’t believe the injury, which sidelined him for six games earlier this month, is serious. … The Phillies expect closer Brad Lidge(notes) to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday. He’s been out since June 7 with a sprained right knee.