ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Johnny Damon had an All-Star caliber weekend.
Damon drove in four runs, Jeremy Hellickson pitched into the eighth inning to stop a personal four-game losing streak and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-3 on Sunday."It's just everything that he does," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Damon, who was not named to the All-Star team. "We need that kind of influence here. He just handles it as well as it possibly can be handled. The way he goes about his business."The Rays designated hitter has 25 career games with at least four RBIs."I've appreciated him for years," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "He's had a great career."Damon, who had four hits in Saturday night's 5-1 win over the Cardinals, went 3 for 5 and moved past Harry Heilmann and Lave Cross into 69th place on the all-time hits list with 2,661. His three-run triple in the eighth made it 8-3."Things just happened to go right these past two games," Damon said. "We beat a very good team. A team that will possibly be playoff bound and World Series bound. It's good to beat a very good team, especially here at home, where we haven't been playing well."Three of Damon's teammates, pitchers David Price and James Shields, along with outfielder Matt Joyce were named before the game to the 2011 AL All-Star team."It's awesome," Maddon said. "I had no idea how it was going to shape up."Hellickson (8-7) allowed three runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings. The Rays had been outscored 20-1 during the right-hander's skid.Kyle Farnsworth pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for his 17th save, entering with a runner on second and one out in the eighth. After retiring Matt Holliday on a flyball to right and walking Lance Berkman, the closer struck out David Freese.Berkman and Yadier Molina homered for the Cardinals. Kyle Lohse (8-5) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings."We just got beat," La Russa said. "I really don't have a whole lot to say. Credit to the other side. Fundamentally we didn't play our best game. They score more than we scored, so they pitched better and played better."B.J. Upton and John Jaso both had RBI doubles in the sixth as Tampa Bay went ahead 5-3. The Rays (47-37) took two of three from St. Louis and improved to 21-21 at home.Berkman pulled St. Louis even at 3 on an opposite-field, two-run homer to left during the sixth. He has 22 homers this season, including 18 on the road.Elliot Johnson reached on a two-out bunt single in the fifth and scored when Damon doubled to deep right. Damon also crossed the plate on the play to give the Rays a 3-1 lead when second baseman Skip Schumaker was charged with an error for an errant relay throw home.The eight runs was the Rays' most at home this year.Molina put the Cardinals up 1-0 on a second-inning homer. The Rays tied it at 1 in the third when Jaso doubled and later scored on Johnson's grounder.St. Louis right fielder Jon Jay made a nice sliding catch on Justin Ruggiano's fourth-inning fly ball with two on and two outs.
On his drive to the ballpark, Joyce was thinking about his off-day plans, which was probably spending time at a condo on the beach, and not an All-Star spot. "It's terrible," Joyce said with a laugh. "Ruins my off days. I've never been to an All-Star game, period. I'm pumped. I can't tell you how excited I am. Achieve a dream." ... Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria got the day off. "A lot of little bumps and bruises," Maddon said. "Just want to take care of him. He'll be back (Monday)." ... Holliday played in the field after being the DH in the previous two games due to cold-like symptoms. ... The Cardinals also had three players named (Berkman, Holliday and Molina) to participate in the 2011 All-Star game. ... Berkman has four homers over his last four games. He has gone deep twice in four overall at-bats against Hellickson.
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ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 3: Catcher John Jaso #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds third base and scores against the...