ST. PETERSBURG -- Another win, another dismal crowd for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Matt Garza pitched a career-high eight innings, leading first-place Tampa Bay over the Texas Rangers 5-3 today.
Despite being off to the best start in franchise history and beginning the day tied with the Chicago Cubs for the best record in major leagues, Tampa Bay drew an announced crowd of 10,927.
The first two games of the series drew 12,174 and 10,511, and the Rays are last in the AL with an average of 17,938, third-lowest in the majors.
Garza (4-1) allowed two runs and four hits for the AL East leaders, who won two of three from the Rangers to hand Texas its first series loss in over a month. The Rays have won nine of their last 11 series, including six straight at home.
B.J. Upton and Akinori Iwamura delivered RBI singles off Kason Gabbard (1-2), Evan Longoria had a sacrifice fly and Carlos Pena and pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd drew walks with the bases loaded for Tampa Bay, which has won 15 of 20 games.
Texas, which led 2-1 after Milton Bradley's two-run single in the fourth, was 8-0-1 in its previous nine series - the longest string for the Rangers since they were 7-0-3 from March 31-April 30, 1998.
Garza walked two and struck out a season-high 10. The right-hander didn't allow a hit after the fifth inning, retiring nine in a row after walking Josh Hamilton to begin the sixth.
Rays closer Troy Percival got the first two outs of the ninth before leaving with an apparent leg injury. Dan Wheeler gave up a RBI single to Frank Catalanotto but finished the combined six-hitter for his first save of the season.
Michael Young doubled in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to 14 games for Texas. One inning later, Ian Kinsler's potential double-play grounder ricocheted off the shin of second base umpire Chris Guccione for an infield hit that gave him a 13-game streak.
Garza set the tone for the Rays by retiring the first nine batters of the game. He walked Kinsler to begin the fourth, then gave up Young's double that bounced over the wall in left center and Bradley's two-run single.
The Rays scored an unearned run in the first on Upton's RBI single and took the lead for good in the fifth when they sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four times, twice on walks with the bases loaded.
Gabbard allowed five runs, five hits and six walks in 4 1-3 innings, including the walk to Pena that snapped a 2-2 tie. Frank Francisco replaced the Texas starter and yielded Longoria's sacrifice fly and the walk to Floyd that made 5-2.
Notes: Young also had a 14-game hitting streak from April 15-30. ... Tampa Bay OF Rocco Baldelli (mitochondrial disorder), who is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on Thursday, may be close to getting some at-bats in extended spring training games. ... Gabbard has not won since pitching seven scoreless innings against the Los Angeles Angels on April 4. In his past two starts, the left-hander has allowed 11 runs, 12 walks and nine hits in seven innings.