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Astros Hang Tough But Can't Overcome Abhorrent Bullpen In Loss To Rays

Final Score: Tampa Bay 14, Houston 10

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Evan Longoria hit a pair of homers and drove in five runs, as the Tampa Bay Rays outlasted the Houston Astros, 14-10, to sweep a three-game series.

Longoria went 4-for-6 with three runs scored in a game that featured 18 extra-base hits, 84 official at-bats and 11 pitchers.

B.J. Upton hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs for the Rays, who went 5-1 on a six-game road trip. Upton homered in every game of the series.

J.P. Howell (1-1) got the win despite giving up a solo homer in one inning of work.

Carlos Lee knocked in three runs for the Astros, who have dropped a season- high six in a row and 14 of 16 at home. Jeff Keppinger and Matt Downs homered in defeat.

Wilton Lopez (1-4) allowed four runs on four hits over 2 1/3 innings to suffer the loss.

It didn't take long for the runs to start piling up. Upton continued his impressive showing in the series with a three-run homer to left-center field in the first inning.

Houston got one run back in the home first on Lee's RBI triple to right-center field.

The Astros added two more runs in the second to tie the game. Clint Barmes hit an RBI double, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-3.

Upton's RBI groundout in the third gave the Rays a 4-3 edge, but Lee's two-run double in the bottom of the frame put Houston in front.

The back-and-forth battle continued in the fourth, as Ben Zobrist hit an RBI double to make it a 5-5 contest.

But the Astros tacked on two more runs in the home fourth to take the lead back. Michael Bourn hit an RBI single, stole second, moved to third on catcher Kelly Shoppach's throwing error and scored on a Keppinger sacrifice fly.

Following a scoreless fifth, the Rays put two runs on the board in the sixth. Lopez gave up a single to Johnny Damon, who advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a balk. Longoria stepped to the plate with one out and smacked Lopez's offering over the wall in left to make it 7-7.

Keppinger's solo homer to left off Howell in the seventh gave the Astros an 8-7 edge.

Of course there was more runs to be had, as the Rays scored four times in the eighth. Damon and Zobrist singled off Lopez to put men on first and second with one out. Mark Melancon took over on the mound and got Longoria to go down swinging. Upton walked to load the bases for pinch-hitter Matt Joyce, who hit a two-run double to the right-field corner. Casey Kotchman followed with a two-run single to right to give Tampa Bay an 11-8 lead.

Downs kept Houston in the game with a two-run homer off Joel Peralta in the home eighth.

Longoria put the game out of reach in the ninth. Wade Davis, who pitched seven strong innings for the Rays on Saturday, led off with a pinch-hit single. Davis moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on Damon's base hit. But Davis was thrown out at home when Zobrist hit a grounder to second. Two men were still on base for Longoria, who cleared the wall in left to make it a 14-10 contest.

Game Notes

Rays starter Jeff Niemann gave up five runs on seven hits over three innings. Houston starter J.A. Happ allowed five runs on nine hits over five full frames...The Rays are 8-1 over their last nine games...Houston fell to 3-6 in interleague play this season, while the Rays improved to 9-3...Longoria's homer in the sixth was reviewed. It was the seventh career multi-homer game for Longoria.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.