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Rays

Rays’ Zobrist finding his groove with the bat

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Published:   |   Updated: April 14, 2014 at 06:52 AM

CINCINNATI — The Rays’ Ben Zobrist did something Sunday he had never done before, not even in Little League. He homered from both sides of the plate in the same game during a 12-4 loss to the Reds.

“I wish the circumstances were a little bit different,” he said. “But still it’s pretty cool to be able to say that I did that in a big-league game.”

Zobrist hit his first home run in the third inning while batting right-handed against LHP Tony Cingrani. His second came in the seventh off RHP Nick Christiani. Both were two-run homers.

“How about it? He’s right up there with Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said, naming a pair of Hall of Famers who also homered from both sides in the same game. “Really some good at-bats. How good did he look in left field? That should possibly get him going.”

Zobrist, who played the outfield for the first time since last season (spring training included), is hitting .304 on the road trip. He said he is seeing the ball better and feels he is finding a groove at the plate.

“It’s hard to be real excited about any personal achievement when we were having a rough day as a team,” he said. “So we’ll have to turn the page quickly and get ready for Baltimore.”

Play of the day

Two runs already had scored and the Reds had runners on second and third in the second inning when starting pitcher Tony Cingrani hit into an unusual 6-2-4-3-2 double play.

SS Yunel Escobar fielded the grounder and threw home, where C Ryan Hanigan put the tag on Devin Mesoraco. Cingrani rounded first base and kept running, hoping to get into a rundown long enough for Zack Cozart to score from second. But 1B Sean Rodriguez fired the ball home to Hanigan, who tagged out Cozart to complete the inning-ending double play.

“That was a great job by the middle (infielders),” Maddon said. “The rundown with (2B Logan) Forsythe to Rodriguez to the plate was outstanding. Hanigan handled everything perfectly. We did everything really, really well with that.”

Injury updates

LHP Matt Moore (left elbow strain) said he will throw today or Tuesday to gauge the pain in his elbow.

RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right elbow surgery) is expected to throw off a mound Tuesday for the frist time since his Jan. 28 surgery. However, it is supposed to rain Tuesday in Baltimore.

“I’ll throw in the rain,” Hellickson said. “I don’t care.”

Maddon’s NL lineup

As he did last season against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Maddon batted his pitcher eighth Sunday.

That allowed Maddon to move Evan Longoria to third in the order. With Rodriguez hitting ninth and Zobrist batting leadoff, Maddon reasoned the Rays would essentially have two leadoff hitters and that would make Longoria the cleanup hitter.

Maddon also had LHP Cesar Ramos hitting eighth because that would allow him to use a pinch-hitter one spot sooner.

Noteworthy

RF Wil Myers hit fourth behind Longoria. Maddon said that was just for Sunday only. ... RHP Joel Peralta was unavailable again Sunday because of a fever. He walked around the clubhouse after the game wearing a sign that read: “Tired and hungry — will pitch for food.” “I was sleeping and someone put this on me,” he said. ... RHP Josh Lueke allowed an eighth-inning grand slam to Chris Heisey. He has allowed runs in four of his five outings.

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