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Bats, Bullpen Brilliant As Rays Beat Cards

For the second consecutive night, the Tampa Bay Rays saw their starting pitcher leave early, but again the bullpen saved the night, as the Rays took the series opener from the St. Louis Cardinals 7-3 at Busch Stadium.

After seeing Alex Cobb exit after 4 1/3 innings in Sunday's victory, the Rays got just 3 2/3 innings out of Jake Odorizzi Monday, as he allowed three runs on three hits, walking four and striking out four. 

St. Louis started the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, with a sacrifice fly by Dexter Fowler following singles from Stephen Piscotty and Paul DeJong giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

Tampa Bay would roar back and take the lead in the third, tying the game on the 28th home run of the year by Steven Souza Jr.  Evan Longoria followed with a single, and Logan Morrison doubled him to third.  Wilson Ramos struck out, and Corey Dickerson was intentionally walked to load the bases in front of Adeiny Hechaverria, who doubled in Longoria and Morrison, and Odorizzi's infield single plated Dickerson for a 4-1 advantage.

A Yadier Molina sacrifice fly cut the lead back to 4-2 in the bottom of the third, but Tampa Bay got the run back in the fourth thanks to a RBI double by Dickerson, one of his four hits on the evening.

Kolten Wong homered off Odorizzi to lead off the bottom of the fourth to again get St. Louis back within a pair of runs, and the Tampa Bay starter would leave before the inning was over, but the bullpen started with Steve Cishek striking out pinch-hitter Jose Martinez to end the inning.

Sergio Romo worked a scoreless fifth and sixth to earn the win, his second of the year.

Dan Jennings allowed a pair of two-out singles in the seventh after starting the inning with a pair of quick outs, but Tommy Hunter picked up his bullpen mate by finishing the frame and then working a perfect eighth.

Kevin Kiermaier, who went hitless in his first five at-bats of the night, made the most of his sixth, with a two-RBI single in the ninth that provided a little extra insurance for Alex Colome, whose perfect ninth finished out the game.

The win gets Tampa Bay back to two games under .500 at 64-66.

The Rays can secure a series win with a victory in Saturday's middle game of the contest.  Blake Snell (2-6, 4.42 ERA) will get the start, taking on Mike Leake (7-12, 4.16 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled 7:15, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 6:00 with The Inside Pitch presented by Sykes Lakeland.

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