Series: Game 3 of 3

Tampa Bay won 3-0

Game 1: Friday, May 19
in 10
Tampa Bay5
Game 2: Saturday, May 20
Tampa Bay4
Game 3: Sunday, May 21
Tampa Bay3

Marlins 0

(11-31, 8-17 away)

Devil Rays 3

(20-24, 12-11 home)

    1:15 PM ET, May 21, 2006

    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida 

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    W: S. Kazmir (7-2)

    L: D. Willis (1-5)

    S: T. Walker (8)

    Kazmir strikes out 11, wins 7th as Rays sweep Marlins

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Scott Kazmir kept the Florida Marlins guessing all day long.

    Elias Says
    Scott Kazmir
    Scott Kazmir is tied for the major league lead in wins. Over the eight previous years of Tampa Bay's brief history (1998-2005) no Devil Rays pitcher finished a season ranked among the top 30 winners in the majors. Only two ranked among the top 50: Arrojo in 1998 (14 wins tied him for the 32nd spot among the leaders) and Tanyon Sturtze in 2001 (tied for 50th with 11 wins).

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    "He had it all going on," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said Sunday. "Fastball, slider, changeup. Both sides of the plate, up and down."

    Kazmir allowed four hits and matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts in eight innings, helping the Devil Rays beat Dontrelle Willis and the punchless Marlins 3-0 for the young left-hander's fifth straight win.

    At 22, Kazmir is the youngest major league pitcher to win seven games this early in a season since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

    "He's got great stuff, and he knows how to pitch. He's proved that," Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been on a roll. I think he took a few lumps the first half of the season last year. Since then, he's been as good as anyone in baseball."

    Kazmir (7-2) shares the major league lead in wins. He held the Marlins to three singles and Miguel Cabrera's fourth-inning double while limiting an opponent to one or fewer earned runs for the fifth consecutive start.

    The lefty walked one and hit a batter before departing after 119 pitches. Tyler Walker worked the ninth for his eighth save in nine opportunities.

    "I felt in a groove the whole game," said Kazmir, who didn't get his first win last season until May 19.

    "This is the best I've felt, by far, definitely. I'm a whole new pitcher. I'm more comfortable with all of my pitches."

    Jonny Gomes keyed a three-run fifth inning with a RBI triple off Willis (1-5), who allowed eight hits in his first complete game of the season.

    Ty Wigginton and Greg Norton also drove runs in the fifth for the Devil Rays, who swept the weekend series and have won a season-high four straight games.

    The Marlins have lost seven in a row, their longest skid since losing eight in a row from July 7-18, 2002.

    Willis worked out of jams with runners in scoring position in the first, second and third innings, but couldn't wiggle off the hook after giving up a one-out single to Julio Lugo in the fifth.

    Gomes broke the scoreless tie with his triple to right-center, then trotted home on Wigginton's RBI single for a 2-0 lead. Norton finished the inning with a run-scoring single that gave Kazmir added insurance.

    "You could see when he got the lead that he turned it up. To me, that's the mark of an ace and a winner," Girardi said.

    "He's got three out pitches. Whenever you have a starting pitcher with three out pitches, they're dangerous. They're going to rack up strikeouts and they're going to go deep into games. You don't get the same look at them."

    Willis, who led the majors last season with 22 victories, has gone seven consecutive starts without a win. It's the longest such stretch of his career, and the Marlins are 0-6 in games he's started on the road.

    The Florida left-hander walked three and struck out three in his second straight solid performance. He allowed a pair of solo homers in nine innings of a game the Marlins lost in extra innings at Atlanta last week.

    "Unfortunately we weren't able to get him a win," Girardi said. "But Dontrelle is on the right track."

    Game notes

    The complete game was the 12th of Willis' career. ... Maddon returned to the bench after missing the first two games of the series to fly to California for his girlfriend's graduation from law school. ... Only one Marlin had faced Kazmir before Sunday. C Miguel Olivo, who was not in the lineup, was 0-for-1 lifetime against the Devil Rays lefty. ... Tampa Bay won the first two games of the series on walk-off homers. Florida has the longest current streak in the majors without a walk-off home run -- 317 games. The Marlins haven't hit one since May 29, 2004 against the New York Mets.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press