Jackson's pitching, Pena's hitting pace Rays win
Edwin Jackson took a two-hitter into the eighth inning and Carlos Pena homered and drove in five runs Friday night, helping the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays beat the Kansas City Royals 11-2 for their fifth straight victory, the AP reported.
Jackson (5-6) matched his win total for last season, limiting the Royals to David DeJesus' first-inning single and Mark Grudzielanek's solo homer in the seventh before giving up two singles and an unearned run in the eighth.
Tampa Bay won for the ninth time in 10 games, improved baseball's best record to 53-32, and maintained a three-game lead in the AL East over second-place Boston, which beat the New York Yankees 6-4.
The Rays are a franchise-record 21 games over .500. Before this year, they had never been more than four games over at any point in a season.
Pena's first homer since June 3 was a three-run shot off Brian Bannister (7-8) that made it 7- 0 in the fifth. He also had a RBI single in the first and a sacrifice fly in the third against the Kansas City starter, who allowed seven runs and eight hits in five innings.
Jackson didn't get his first win in 2007 until June 24. The 24-year-old right-hander was 1-9 after losing to the Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 4 and finished 5-15 with a 5.76 ERA in 31 starts.
Thanks to a pair of double-play grounders, Jackson faced the minimum 18 batters through six innings. Grudzielanek hit his third homer of the season with one out in the seventh.
DeJesus led off the game with a single, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 16 games before Grudzielanek grounded into a double play. DeJesus drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, when Alex Gordon hit into an inning-ending double play.
B.J. Upton and Cliff Floyd had sacrifice flies during Tampa Bay's three-run first. Pena's sacrifice fly made it 4-0, then the slugger's first homer since returning from a stint on the disabled list with a broken left index finger broke it open.
The Rays added four runs in the eighth, two of them on Carl Crawford's third single.
Jackson allowed two runs and four hits, including eighth-inning singles to Mark Teahen and Ross Gload. Teahen scored from third base on a passed ball.