ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria offers a simple explanation for his gaudy offensive numbers against AL East rival Boston: familarity with the Red Sox pitching staff.
``When you play each other as much as we do, you kind of get a feel for them,' the reigning AL Rookie of the Year said Friday night after extending his torrid hitting against the Red Sox with a grand slam that keyed a 6-2 victory.
``Longo is the kind of player that likes the big moment. He's always ready,' Rays manager Joe Maddon said, adding that the 23-year-old is off to a nice start - .368, seven homers, an AL-leading 28 RBIs - against the entire league.
``We just play the Red Sox a lot, and because of that it's probably showing up a little bit more right now,' Maddon said. ``But I like to believe he's going to be able to do that against a lot of teams as he goes further into his career.'
Andy Sonnanstine (1-3) allowed two runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings to get his first regular-season victory since Aug. 18 for the defending AL champions, who improved to 4-1 against Boston.
Longoria homered and drove in four runs for the second straight night, connecting off Justin Masterson (2-1) during Tampa Bay's six-run fifth inning. The All-Star third baseman had a three-run double and solo home run Thursday and is 10-for-22 with four homers and 13 RBIs against the Red Sox this year.
``I think he's a great player. We've seen the last two nights what he can do,' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ``You leave a ball over the middle of the plate, and he's made a difference in both games.'
Carlos Pena also homered in the fifth off Masterson, who made his third start for Boston in place of injured Daisuke Matsuzaka. The right-hander allowed six runs on six hits, walked three and struck out six in six innings.
``Today was a very, very good sign for us. We hadn't been able to put two offensive games together in a row, let alone get guys in scoring position to put ourselves in a situation where we can drive guys in,' Longoria said.
A night after being held to one hit in a 13-0 loss, the Red Sox wasted a couple early opportunities to put Sonnanstine in a deep hole. They stranded six runners in the first three innings (10 overall) and only scored once after getting a single, double and walk to load the bases in the third.
Sonnanstine, who had gone 11 regular-season starts without winning, walked Jason Bay to force in Boston's first run. He gave up a two-out double to Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew's RBI single to fall behind 2-0 in the fifth.
Masterson, who won his other two starts in place of Matsuzaka, allowed one hit through four innings. Gabe Gross singled to open the Tampa Bay fifth, and after Akinori Iwamura walked, things went downhill in a hurry.
B.J. Upton's bases-loaded sacrifice fly trimmed the Rays' deficit to 2-1 before Masterson walked Crawford to again fill the bases for Longoria, who fell behind 0-2 before working the count to 2-2 and hitting the second grand slam of his career.
Pena followed with his 10th homer to make it 6-2.
``Pretty much the inning got out of hand,' Masterson said. ``I made a poor pitch decision to Longoria ... and he put it where he's supposed to.'
J.P. Howell replaced Sonnanstine with two outs in the sixth. He, Dan Wheeler and Joe Nelson held the Red Sox to one hit - Dustin Pedroia's third single of the night - and two walks the rest of the way.
Notes: The Rays, who have lost six consecutive series since winning two of three games from Boston the first week of the season, are guaranteed at least a split of the four-game series. ... Matsuzaka, on the disabled list since April 15 with a mild right shoulder strain, is scheduled to make his first minor league rehab start Tuesday, likely with Triple-A Pawtucket. ... Rays RHP Jason Isringhausen, who's with Triple-A Durham on rehab assignment, was scratched Thursday night from a scheduled appearance because of a mild abdominal strain that manager Joe Maddon said is not serious.
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