ARLINGTON, Texas —Scott Kazmir went eight innings to win his career-best sixth straight start, Evan Longoria hit one of Tampa Bay’s four homers and the Rays beat the Texas Rangers 12-4 Friday night.
Kazmir (6-1) allowed two runs and six hits, struck out six and walked none. B.J. Upton, Dioner Navarro and Eric Hinske also connected to help the Rays avoid matching their longest skid of the season.
The Rangers had scored eight or more runs in their previous six games, but Kazmir kept them in check as Tampa Bay pulled within a half-game of the first-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
All was calm with the Rays following Thursday night’s bench-clearing brawl with the Red Sox.
Tampa Bay pitchers James Shields (six games) and Edwin Jackson (five), outfielders Jonny Gomes (five) and Carl Crawford (four), and second baseman Akinori Iwamura (three) were suspended for their role in the incident.
All five were available for the opener of the three-game series due to appeals and because the suspensions were scheduled to start at staggered times.
Vicente Padilla (7-3) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings for the Rangers. He had won a career-best seven straight decisions.
Padilla retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced before Longoria belted his eighth homer leading off the fifth to tie it at 1.
Upton hit a solo drive and Cliff Floyd scored on Padilla’s wild pitch in the sixth to make it 3-1.
The Rays scored three in the eighth and six in the ninth. Navarro hit a two-run homer off Robinson Tejeda in the eighth and Hinske had a two-run drive in the ninth.
Ian Kinsler hit a solo drive in the eighth for Texas.
Padilla missed a start while he was on bereavement leave earlier this week. He was in his native Nicaragua attending to a personal family matter before returning late Thursday night.
Rangers shortstop Michael Young was scratched from the lineup due to a bruised left ring finger. Young had started 60 of Texas’ first 62 games and currently carries a 21-game hitting streak, longest in the majors this season and four short of his career high.