CLEVELAND -- Reid Brignac liked his defense even more than his three-run homer. So did Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon.
Brignac staked Wade Davis to a 3-1 lead with one swing, then made a diving stop to help the right-hander remain unbeaten in July as the Rays beat the Cleveland Indians 4-2 Sunday."I was at the right place at the right time," Brignac said of taking away at least one run and possibly two with his stellar seventh-inning stop. "To help save it means more to me."Joaquin Benoit relieved Davis (8-9) with one out and the Rays leading 4-2. Cleveland got runners to second and third with two outs when Carlos Santana hit a sharp line drive past first. Brignac, playing about 20 feet on the grass in short right on a shift, made a diving stop toward the foul line on the ball's first bounce, scrambled to his feet and threw out the rookie to end the threat."How about that?" Maddon said. "A lot of that has to do with our advance scouts. We don't know Santana, he's been in the league what, three weeks? Normally, you don't move for a young guy, but our scouts gave us a good report."The Rays took two of three in the series to improve the majors' best road record to 33-18. They had lost 18 in a row at Progressive Field since 2005 before winning Saturday."We had bad vibes here, but I like the way we came back," Maddon said. "Amazing how the mood changes with one win, but we've actually been playing very well."Tampa Bay scored five or more runs six times in going 5-4 on a trip to New York, Baltimore and Cleveland.Cleveland designated hitter Travis Hafner went 4 for 4, but the Indians were only 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position -- making them 1 for 26 over four games."I've been able to make a mechanical change since the break and it seems that's going pretty well," said Hafner, who has hit .455 over his past six games. "It's just a minor change. I'm basically trying to see the ball better."Indians manager Manny Acta is tired of seeing his team fail to convert scoring chances."Offensively, we were horrible," Acta said. "We had terrible approaches at the plate when we were in hitters counts."Brignac connected off Justin Masterson (3-9) to put Tampa Bay ahead 3-1 in the second.Then Davis improved to 3-0 in four starts this month after going 0-5 in June. He allowed two runs and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings and tied Cleveland's Mitch Talbot for the most wins by an American League rookie."The first two innings were an uphill battle, then I got good defense and we won," said Davis, who is 5-0 with a 2.45 ERA in seven career starts against AL Central teams.Cleveland took a 1-0 lead in the first. Michael Brantley drew a leadoff walk and scored on Santana's sacrifice fly.After Brignac's homer, the Indians got to 3-2 in the bottom of the second. Hafner had a leadoff single and scored on a groundout by Andy Marte.Marte misplayed Jason Bartlett's grounder for an error to open the Rays' fifth. Bartlett stole second, took third on a groundout and scored on Carl Crawford's sac fly to make it 4-2.Masterson gave up three earned runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander fell to 1/3 in eight starts since pitching his first career shutout June 9 against Boston.Two Cleveland relievers picked off consecutive Rays trying to steal in the eighth. A few pitches after Crawford took second base for his 34th steal of the season, right-hander Joe Smith got him trying to take third. Smith walked Evan Longoria and was replaced by lefty Tony Sipp -- who got an out without making a pitch. Before facing Carlos Pena, Sipp stepped off the rubber as Longoria took off for second and got a caught stealing to end the inning.
Acta said RHP Josh Tomlin will start Tuesday night against the New York Yankees in his big league debut. Tomlin is 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA at Triple-A Columbus and 51-24 since being drafted in 2006. A player will have to be dropped or traded to make room for the 25-year-old on the 40-man roster. ... Indians RHP Kerry Wood, on the disabled list with a blistered right index finger, said he felt good after a bullpen session. ... Hafner had a career-high four hits for the ninth time. ... Cleveland has an extra-base hit in 47 consecutive games -- the majors' longest active streak and the team's longest since a 69-game streak in 2008. ... Rays OF B.J. Upton, 5 for 11 with two doubles and a homer against Masterson, did not start. He was a defensive replacement in the eighth. ... Cleveland pitchers are 10-4 with a 2.06 ERA at home since June 28.