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Archive for Monday, July 7, 2008

Longoria-led Rays rip Royals

Surging Tampa Bay rolls to 9-2 victory over foundering Kansas City

Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena, left, congratulates teammate Evan Longoria on his two-run home run in front of Kansas City catcher John Buck. Longoria's third-inning blast lifted the Rays to a 9-2 victory over the Royals on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena, left, congratulates teammate Evan Longoria on his two-run home run in front of Kansas City catcher John Buck. Longoria's third-inning blast lifted the Rays to a 9-2 victory over the Royals on Sunday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

July 7, 2008

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— Evan Longoria might be playing himself onto the All-Star team.

Longoria hit a two-run homer during a four-run third inning, and the Tampa Bay Rays went on to pummel the Kansas City Royals, 9-2, on Sunday for their seventh straight victory.

"There's a sense of calmness in our dugout," said Longoria, one of five players the fans will vote on to fill the last American League All-Star spot. "It's incredible the things we're doing here."

James Shields (7-5) gave up two runs and four hits over seven innings to win his third consecutive start. He struck out eight and walked one.

The Rays, with the majors' best record at 55-32, have won 11 of 12 overall. Their seven-game winning streak is the second-longest in team history; Tampa Bay won 12 in a row in June 2004.

"Right now, we're trying to put together a run and keep it going," Shields said.

Esteban German drove in both runs for the Royals, who have lost seven of nine.

Carlos Pena drove in two runs on a two-out double and Longoria followed with his two-run homer off Luke Hochevar (5-7) that gave Tampa Bay a 5-2 lead in the third. Longoria has five homers and 17 RBIs in his last 13 games.

"Right now he's playing with a lot of confidence," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's really not a surprise. This is what he's capable of doing. As the league learns him, and then he learns the league back, there's going to be some give and take going on. But I think you're going to see this kind of performance for many years to come."

Longoria's 16 homers this season are tied with Kansas City's Bob Hamelin (1994) for the second-most by an AL rookie before the All-Star break in the last 20 years.

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