Pena breaks Rays' home run record

Pena breaks Rays' home run record

ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Pena has hit his way out of an early-season slump -- and right into the Rays' record books.

The first baseman blasted his 13th home run of the season to center field in the second inning against Toronto on Thursday, giving him 129 with Tampa Bay -- a new franchise record.

Pena tied Aubrey Huff's mark of 128 on Wednesday night, and the solo shot off Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil gave him sole possession of the top spot, as well as his fifth home run in the past four games.

"I'm just extremely grateful to have the opportunity to do something like this," Pena said of the 424-foot blast that broke the record. "[It was a] very special day for me. I know it would have been a lot better if we'd gotten that win. But I can't deny that I'm very grateful.

"It feels good to be able to square up and drive it up the middle like that."

The slugger struggled through the entire month of May, when he batted a measly .120, but he has caught fire lately. Pena's strong past four games ended slumps of 2-for-30 since May 27 and 5-for-50 since May 21.

The 32-year-old Pena hit 46 home runs in 2007, his first season with the then-Devil Rays. He added 31 in '08, 39 in '09 and already has 13 this season. His 129 home runs in that span lead the American League, and he is fifth in the Majors behind Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Adam Dunn.

Pena was well aware of his new franchise record, but hearing that statistic -- and the fact that he has hit two more home runs than Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez over the past four years -- was something of a surprise.

"That's just awesome. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that's not cool. That is very cool to me," Pena said. "Even though I don't keep stats like that, it's kind of cool to find out occasionally and be like, 'Hey, it's not so bad.'"

Adam Berry is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.