ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Left fielder Kelly Johnson hit two three-run homers and tied a career-high with four hits Monday, coming a triple away from the cycle, as the Tampa Bay Rays held on for a 10-6 win over the Miami Marlins in front of 13,025 at Tropicana Field.
Johnson's first homer gave the Rays a six-run lead in the second, and after the Marlins pulled within a run, he ripped another three-run blast in the eighth to put it away.
Johnson, who also had an infield double and stole third base during an intentional walk in the sixth, now has 24 RBIs in May. The two homers, six RBIs and four hits all matched career highs. It was the second straight victory for Tampa Bay (26-24), and 13th loss in 15 games for the worst-in-the-majors Marlins (13-38).
In the first of four straight matchups between the two 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 just 3 1/3 innings, the shortest outing of his young career.
But Rays rookie Jake Odorizzi, making his second start in place of injured ace lefty David Price, wasn't much better, nearly squandering a 6-0 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 had scored just seven runs in their previous four games combined, scored three in each of the fourth and fifth inning, 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 Diamondbacks. He last had six RBIs in a game June 17, 2005.
Fernandez started strong, with three strikeouts in the first inning, including third baseman Evan Longoria on a 99 miles per hour fastball. But the Rays would pounce 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 Marlin Yunel Escobar ripped an RBI single. But the biggest blow was a three-run homer by Johnson to make it 6-0.
However, 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.
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.