Tampa Bay Rays' Grady Sizemore. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays have been eliminated from postseason contention, but still find motivation in things like Wednesday's 6-4 win against the Miami Marlins, which matched Tampa Bay's win total from last season with four games remaining.
Designated hitter Grady Sizemore hit a three-run double in a four-run fifth inning, leading the Rays to their second straight win at Tropicana Field.
"I'm very happy with how I finished the season," said Rays starter Drew Smyly (5-2), who struck out eight while holding the Marlins to three hits and one run in six innings. "I've been told by a smart man that it's not how you start, it's how you finish, and hopefully I can carry that into next season."
Sizemore, who struck out with the bases loaded in the fourth, got another shot in the fifth and broke open a close game, chasing Marlins starter Jarred Cosart from the game. Sizemore is 8-for-15 during a six-game hitting streak, and he has nine RBIs in his past seven games.
The Rays (77-81) have won four of five games against the Marlins (69-89) with the series wrapping up Thursday night. Tampa Bay would need to win their remaining four games to avoid finishing with a losing record.
The Marlins gave the Rays a scare in the ninth, getting an RBI single from second baseman Dee Gordon to put the tying run at the plate against closer Brad Boxberger with two outs. Boxberger got center fielder Christian Yelich to ground out to first, giving him his 40th save, tied for the American League lead.
"It's an honor -- I never could have thought of it coming into this year," Boxberger said.
The Rays broke open a close game in the fifth inning, scoring four runs with two outs off Cosart (2-5).
"I thought he did a heck of a job getting through that fourth inning to minimize the damage and in the fifth inning there, just didn't make the pitch that he needed to," manager Dan Jennings said.
Second baseman Nick Franklin, batting ninth in the Rays' lineup, hit a solo home run to right-center field, his third of the season, for a 2-1 Tampa Bay lead. Cosart walked the next two batters, and third baseman Evan Longoria initially appeared to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning. However, the Rays challenged the call, which was overturned, loading the bases.
Sizemore came through with a three-run double down the left-field line for a 5-1 lead.
Cosart exited, having allowed five runs on five hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out four.
"Thought I had a chance to go deep and throw a no-hitter," said Cosart, who didn't allow a hit in the first three innings. "Kind of lost feel for my secondary stuff as the game went on."
Miami paired two hits in the fourth inning, as first baseman Justin Bour doubled off the top of the wall in right field, then scored on a single by right fielder Marcell Ozuna for a 1-0 lead.
The Rays tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera's sacrifice fly after Sizemore's strikeout. First baseman James Loney hit into an inning-ending fielder's choice, stranding two runners, as he would do in the fifth inning as well with a pop fly to left.
NOTES: The Marlins went into Wednesday's game with a 17-9 record since Aug. 31, the best in the National League over that span and tied with Toronto for second best in the majors. A big part of that was Miami's .293 batting average during that stretch, the best in baseball. ... Rays SS Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning of Tuesday's win over the Marlins, his seventh career go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later and second this month. He had a similar home run Sept. 11 against Boston, breaking an eighth-inning tie with a two-run shot. ... September call-ups have been some of the Rays' best bats this month, with OF Mike Mahtook ranking sixth in the majors and best among rookies with a .368 batting average and J.P. Arencibia leading all catchers with six home runs in September and ranking second with 15 RBIs.