Rays pick up 3rd straight win as big bats back Wade Davis

HOUSTON -- Wade Davis is finally getting into a groove for Tampa Bay.

Now the Rays are counting on him to keep it up.

B.J. Upton homered and drove in two runs to back up Davis and help the Rays beat the Houston Astros 7-2 Saturday night.

"He played a good game," Maddon said. Davis "was a good baseball player tonight. He pitched well. he did a lot of good things defensively as well as with the two bunts. He had himself a really good night."

Evan Longoria and Casey Kotchman added two RBIs apiece for the Rays, who won their third straight.

Upton had an RBI single in the third inning and homered for the second straight day with a solo shot that made it 4-1 in the sixth. Longoria hit run-scoring doubles in both the first and ninth innings and Kotchman added a two-run single in the ninth.

Davis (7-5) allowed five hits and a run in seven innings to win for the third start in a row. Kyle Farnsworth allowed two hits in 1 2/3 innings for his 16th save.

Davis went from May 8 to June 12 between wins before beginning his current streak.

Davis said he's traditionally been better in the second half and is encouraged that he's got going before the All-Star break.

"Everything's coming together a bit better," he said. "Hopefully I can build off the momentum. We're playing good and I think it will be good for everybody."

Houston starter Bud Norris (4-6) yielded six hits and three runs while walking three in five innings.

"He was trying to find his stuff," Houston manager Brad Mills said. "He kept working to find his stuff. His command kind of got him in trouble with those walks, but he kept battling."

Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence each drove in a run for the Astros, who have dropped five of their last six.

Upton made it 4-1 with his solo homer to left field off reliever Fernando Abad in the sixth inning. On Friday night, his homer to left was reviewed but the play was upheld after the Astros argued that a fan interfered with the ball. This one left no doubt as it landed several rows into the stands and was scooped up by a smiling little boy.

Upton downplayed his offensive performance.

"Our pitching is essentially keeping us in ball games and I think that's what this team is about is timely hitting," he said. "I don't think right now anybody is really standing out, we're just getting hits at the right time."

Jeff Keppinger singled with one out in the eighth inning before scoring on a double by Pence to cut the lead to 4-2. Lee reached on an error by left fielder Sam Fuld when he looked to have caught the fly ball, but dropped it when moving it from his glove to his hand.

Tampa Bay got out of that inning when Matt Downs grounded into a double play.

Keppinger singled with one out in the sixth inning before Pence reached on an error by shortstop Reid Brignac. Davis plunked Matt Downs to load the bases but escaped the jam when Brett Wallace grounded out.

Pence walked with two outs in the fourth inning before scoring on a double by Lee to cut Tampa Bay's lead to 3-1.

Upton singled in a run in the third to leave the score at 3-0. Norris was shaken up later in that inning when he stretched to make a catch while covering first base. A trainer came on the field and talked to him for a couple of minutes before he threw some warmup pitches and remained in the game.

Mills said the right-hander "tweaked" his left shoulder on the play, but that he should be OK.

Johnny Damon had an RBI single in the second to push the lead to 2-0. Houston had a chance for a play at the plate on that score, but Brignac got under catcher Carlos Corporan in a collision and was safe. Brignac singled and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Davis to set up that score.

Ben Zobrist walked with one out in the first before scoring on a double by Longoria to make it 1-0. Longoria has driven in five runs in the last two games while hitting without batting gloves for the first time since his rookie season to try and break out of a slump.

Longoria said he'll go without gloves again on Sunday even though his hands are suffering for his decision.

"They're a little bit sore, but my swing feels good, it's in a good spot," he said. "It's not a direct result of the gloves by any means, or no gloves, but superstitious as we are I'll keep it going that way."

Michael Bourn hit a leadoff double for the Astros but he and Keppinger were out on a fielder's choice double play. Keppinger reached before Bourn was caught in a rundown, but left first base and he was also caught in one.

"I should have kept going and make him run either way," Bourn said of the play. "He was able to tag me out without making a throw, and that's what started the double play."

Upton reached on an error with no outs in the eighth inning, but was thrown out at home on a double by John Jaso. Bourn couldn't make the catch on the fly ball, but made the throw to Keppinger from his knees and Keppinger's throw to the plate beat him there.

Game notes
Houston manager Brad Mills said C J.R. Towles, who needed 11 stitches to close a gash that he got after a pitch bounced off the dirt and hit him under the chin, won't be able to catch for a few days, but he was able to pinch hit on Saturday. ... Downs, who normally plays second or third base, made his second career start at shortstop on Saturday and committed an error in the eighth inning.