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Published: Thursday, 5/12/2011

Road Rays: Tampa Bay improves majors' best road record with 7-4 win over Indians

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Cleveland Indians base runner Orlando Cabrera is picked off second by Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Elliot Johnson in the sixth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Thursday,  May 12, 2011.   (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta) Cleveland Indians base runner Orlando Cabrera is picked off second by Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Elliot Johnson in the sixth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland on Thursday, May 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
AMY SANCETTA / AP Enlarge

CLEVELAND — James Shields pitched seven strong innings to finally beat Cleveland, and the Tampa Bay Rays did some more road repair to their record with a 7-4 win on Thursday over Justin Masterson and the Indians.

Tampa Bay has won 10 of 11 on the road and owns the majors' best mark away from home at 13-5. The Rays are 21-7 overall following a 1-8 start.

Cleveland lost for just the second time in 16 home games.

Shields (4-1) gave up two runs and scattered seven hits. The right-hander came in 0-4 in six career starts against Cleveland, the only AL team he had never beaten. He improved to 4-0 with 1.12 ERA in his last five starts overall.

Reid Brignac, Sam Fuld and Evan Longoria had two RBIs apiece as the Rays handed Masterson (5-1) his first loss.

Asdrubal Cabrera homered for the Indians, who had their 14-game home winning streak stopped by David Price on Wednesday.

Shields picked up right where Price left off. He took a shutout into the sixth, made big pitches whenever trouble brewed and picked off two runners. He walked one and struck out seven.

Cleveland's Grady Sizemore missed his second straight game with a bruised right knee. An MRI exam showed no structural damage, a huge relief to the Indians and Sizemore, who sat out most of 2010 after undergoing microfracture surgery on his other knee.

The Rays didn't have outfielder B.J. Upton. He served the first game of a two-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball following a tirade after he was ejected on May 4. Upton will also sit out Friday's series opener at home against Baltimore.

For the second straight day, Tampa Bay jumped to an early lead on the Indians, who made a habit of scoring quick runs while winning a club-record 18 games in April and building a surprising lead in the AL Central.

The Rays scored four in the second off Masterson, who was having trouble locating his fastball during a scoreless first inning.

After the Rays loaded the bases on a walk and two singles, Brignac gave them a 2-0 lead with a two-run double, his first extra-base hit in 105 at-bats. Brignac had hit nothing but singles since Sept. 22, but slapped a double into the left-field corner, scoring Matt Joyce and Casey Kotchman.

One out later, Fuld, who had three hits on Wednesday, made it 4-0 with a two-run single.

Masterson managed to hang around until the sixth, but with the Indians unable to mount any threat against Shields.

The Rays went ahead 5-0 in the sixth when Elliot Johnson executed a safety squeeze to score Joyce.

Cleveland finally got something going in their sixth. Cabrera led off with his sixth homer, a towering shot to right-center. Cabrera has already matched his career-high in homers in just 148 at-bats. He hit six in 352 at-bats in 2008, and six in 523 a year later.

Shin-Soo Choo singled and Orlando Cabrera's two-out RBI double pulled the Indians within 5-2. But with the Rays shifting three infielders to the left side with pull-hitting Shelley Duncan up, second baseman Johnson sneaked behind Cabrera and Shields picked him off.

The Indians closed to 5-3 in the eighth when Asdrubal Cabrera tripled and scored on Choo's groundout.

Longoria's two-run double in the ninth made it 7-3.

NOTES: Rays OF Johnny Damon had two hits, moving him into a tie for 73rd place on the career list with 2,605. Next up for him are No. 72 Jimmie Foxx (2,646) and No. 71 Ted Williams (2,654). ... Young guns: With an average age of 26.3, Cleveland's pitching staff is the majors' youngest. ... Joyce came in leading the AL with a .358 average. Joyce, Fuld and Jason Bartlett (2009) are the only Tampa players to top the league batting race later than the first week of the season. Fuld was at .366 on April 22.



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