ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Colby Rasmus' home run set off fireworks on and off the field.
Rasmus hit a three-run shot during a wild eighth inning that featured four ejections, leading the St. Louis Cardinals past the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on Friday night."Colby's got so much talent," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "When he gets into a game, a lot of good things happen. If he can keep that up, good at-bats, what a huge asset he would be."Jake Westbrook gave up two hits in seven scoreless innings for St. Louis, which has won four straight.Rasmus, who also had a run-scoring groundout during the second inning, connected against J.P. Howell for his fourth homer in the last seven games and No. 9 on the season. The drive to right led to three ejections.Howell was thrown out by plate umpire Vic Carapazza after the left-hander threw his glove to the ground after the homer and also spiked the new ball tossed to him by the umpire."The one he was giving me wasn't good enough. I wanted a new ball, and he took it personal," Howell said. "We're supposed to take it but he can't take it, and if he's allowed to ring me, that's the way it is. They're human too, and you gotta move on, and I know he'll be better down the road."Howell walked toward the plate area and had to be restrained. Rasmus crossed the plate while the arguing continued."I didn't think his beef was with me, you know," Rasmus said. "I understand. I know the game is tough. Maybe he's falling on some hard times. Just mad at the world or whatever it may be. Some things didn't go his way. I just hit the ball, run around, touch the plate and take my happy self back to the dugout."First base umpire Doug Eddings ejected Rays pitcher David Price and reserve infielder Elliot Johnson for comments made from the dugout."I was just trying to defend my teammate," Johnson said. "It just seemed like (umpire Dana) DeMuth came in from second base and it seemed like he kind of lost control of himself in that situation. It just seemed like he was yelling at J.P. and I was just trying to defend him. I wasn't swearing at the man or name-calling or anything like that."Earlier in the eighth, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was ejected by Carapazza for arguing from the dugout after Lance Berkman drew a two-out walk on 3-2 pitch.DeMuth said Howell was tossed for arguing balls and strikes, and the glove spike got the umpires' attention."The home plate asked him, 'Was that directed toward me?'" DeMuth said. "I'm glad it only end up with (four ejections). It was headed for more."Westbrook (7-4) struck out seven and walked three in his first victory since June 7 at Houston. The right-hander was 0-1 with a 6.61 ERA in his previous three starts."Outstanding," La Russa said. "Just kept going after them. He was in command of his delivery, his emotions, his concentration."Tampa Bay scored three times in the eighth. Evan Longoria had a run-scoring double and Matt Joyce added a two-run homer against Lance Lynn. Longoria has driven in 14 runs over his last seven games."I thought we were kind of flat at the beginning of the game," Maddon said. "I was kind of annoyed with that. We just had a day off Thursday and we didn't have a day off listed for Friday, so I was a little upset with that."Fernando Salas pitched the ninth for his 14th save.The Cardinals grabbed a 2-0 lead against Wade Davis (7-6) in the second inning. Yadier Molina hit an RBI single to snap an 0-for-13 slide.Davis allowed six hits in seven innings. He had won his previous three starts.Westbrook worked out of two-on, two-out jams in the second and third before striking out Sam Fuld with a runner on third to end the fourth."It took me a little while to get into a groove," Westbrook said. "Once I did, I made some pitches early on when I needed to."The Cardinals are playing just their second ever road series against Tampa Bay. St. Louis swept the previous three-game set at Tropicana Field in June 2005.
Maddon spent most of Thursday's off day on his couch. "From 11:30 (a.m.) to 1 o'clock in the morning ... that is not an exaggeration," Maddon said. "I felt like I'd been in a fight, so I just decided to lay down. I watched every game that was on, and then I finished up with some Dave Chappelle movies. Hysterical." ... La Russa, a native of nearby Tampa, expects to have more than 50 family members and friends in attendance at each game in the three-game series. ... St. Louis left fielder Matt Holliday doubled in five at-bats as the DH. He has some aches and pain stemming from cold-like symptoms.