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Johnson's two homers power Rays past Marlins

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Kelly Johnson believes individual statistics shouldn't be scrutinized until after the season.

Even so, it's hard to ignore Johnson's strong start to the year, which includes a memorable Memorial Day. He racked up two three-run homers and four hits in the Rays' 10-6 win over the Miami Marlins at Tropicana Field.

Johnson, a 31-year-old veteran, finished a triple shot of the cycle, matching single-game career highs in hits, RBIs and homers. He took over the team lead with 10 homers and 32 RBI.

"I feel good and I feel confident," said Johnson, in his eighth season, first with the Rays. "That's important to me. I think you're always searching for something that's going to let you feel confident, and you just try to roll with it."

Johnson's first homer gave the Rays a 6-0 lead in the second inning. After the Marlins pulled within 7-6, he ripped another three-run blast in the eighth to put it away. It was the second straight victory for Tampa Bay (26-24), and the 13th loss in 15 games for the worst-in-the-majors Marlins (13-38).

"Overall, offensively, I was happy with the way we swung the bats," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We couldn't execute some pitches and we gave up some big hits, a couple home runs that really cost us the game."

In the first of four straight matchups between the teams, both rookie starting pitchers struggled, failing to get through five innings.

Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, a former Tampa Alonso High star pitching in the stadium where he saw his first big-league game, was charged with seven runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings. It was the shortest outing of his young career.

"It was good to be back home," Fernandez said. "I'm just sorry it didn't come out the way it should be."

Rays rookie Jake Odorizzi, making his second start in place of injured ace lefty David Price, wasn't much better, nearly squandering a six-run lead against the lowest-scoring team in the majors. Odorizzi was charged with six runs on eight hits, and he was pulled after failing to get an out in the fifth.

The Marlins, who scored just seven runs in their previous four games combined, scored three in each of the fourth and fifth innings, stranding the tying run on base in the fifth. Greg Dobbs and Jordan Brown each had two RBIs for Miami.

But the story was Johnson, an eighth-year veteran who hit two homers in a game for the first time since May 30, 2011, against the Marlins while with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He last had six RBIs in a game June 17, 2005.

Fernandez (2-3) started strong, with three strikeouts in the first inning, including third baseman Evan Longoria on a 99 mph fastball. However, the Rays pounced on Fernandez in the second with a six-run rally -- on just two hits. Fernandez was wild, walking two and hitting Desmond Jennings to load the bases. Catcher Jose Molina hit a sacrifice fly, and former Marlins shortstop Yunel Escobar ripped an RBI single. Johnson followed with a three-run homer.

Odorizzi allowed three runs in the fourth and loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth before getting pulled, charged with six runs after reliever Josh Lueke gave up a two-run single by Dobbs and an RBI single by Brown.

"It's extremely frustrating," Ordorizzi said. "It's just frustrating to know that I wasn't anywhere near my best stuff and just had a bad day for it."

Jake McGee (2-2) threw two scoreless innings and received credit for the win. Rays closer Fernando Rodney struck out two in the ninth inning in a non-save situation.

NOTES: Price (left triceps strain) felt good Monday after his first throwing session since going on the disabled list May 16. ... The Marlins placed RHP Alex Sanabia on the 15-day disabled list with a right groin injury before Monday's game and recalled left-hander Dan Jennings from Triple-A New Orleans. Manager Mike Redmond said RHP Wade LeBlanc is an option to take Sanabia's next start Friday. ... The holiday game between the Florida rivals drew just 13,025 fans.

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