ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays finally scored a run, and got a victory too.
Desmond Jennings had a two-run single during a four-run fourth inning and the Rays snapped a club-record 31-inning scoring drought en route to beating the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 Wednesday night.
“Outstanding,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “The guys needed that, and you could just see them relax immediately.”
Tampa Bay, which won for just the second time in 16 games, had been shut out in its previous three games. The Rays had scored 35 runs over the previous 15 games.
“It’s been so awkward to watch this other side of this whole thing,” Maddon said. “I’m not going to say we’re cured, but I definitely believe it’s a step in the right direction.”
Yadier Molina had two RBIs for the Cardinals, who entered with three consecutive shutout pitching performances. St. Louis pitchers had their streak of 30 scoreless innings end.
The Rays’ big fourth inning came against Michael Wacha (4-5).
Matt Joyce had an RBI single, with a second run scoring when center fielder Peter Bourjos was charged with an error for misplaying the hit. After Wacha walked Yunel Escobar and Ryan Hanigan to load the bases, Jennings drove in two with a single.
“That’s a great feeling to come through and really kick-start the party,” Joyce said.
Wacha allowed four runs, four hits and four walks in five innings.
“He just never really found his fastball, for whatever reason,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “His timing was off and it was a fight for him.”
Wacha had given up three runs or less in 13 straight starts to begin the season, which was the longest season-opening stretch by a Cardinals pitcher since a 14-game run by Lee Meadows in 1917.
Bourjos was robbed of an extra-base hit with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth when right fielder Kevin Kiermaier made a full-extension diving catch on a liner.
“Kiermaier flying through the air, that’s the play of the game,” Maddon said. “Kiermaier’s play was totally uplifting.”
Bourjos called it unbelievable.
“Initially when it left the bat I didn’t see anybody over there,” Bourjos said. “But he covered a lot of ground.”
Tampa Bay extended its lead to 6-3 in the seventh on Evan Longoria’s RBI single and a sacrifice fly by James Loney.
Molina hit a two-run third-inning single before Matt Carpenter put the Cardinals ahead 3-0 on a run-scoring single in the fourth.
Rays starter Erik Bedard lasted just four innings, giving up three runs and eight hits. The left-hander entered with the best ERA (2.51) all-time in interleague play with at least 25 starts.
Juan Carlos Oviedo (2-2) went 1 1-3 innings for the win. Grant Balfour threw the final 2 1-3 innings for his 10th save.
NOTES: The Cardinals are optimistic that ace Adam Wainwright’s right elbow discomfort is not a serious issue. He returned to St. Louis for tests . … Former St. Louis manager and Tampa native Tony La Russa threw the ceremonial first pitch. He will be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame on July 27. … Tampa Bay RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) will make his second rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Durham. He could rejoin the rotation at the end of the month. … Maddon was given the neon back entrance sign from Derby Lane track that he drove by daily en route to the ballpark. The track was a favorite spot of Rays senior adviser Don Zimmer, who died last week at 83. “My head is spinning right now,” said Maddon, when he first saw the sign outside the clubhouse. … The Cardinals signed high school pitcher Ronnie Williams, their 2014 second-round draft pick.
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