By Michael Kolligian and Troy Provost-Heron
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays exploded for six runs in the seventh inning to pull off their 24th come-from-behind victory of the season and complete a two-game sweep of the Braves with a 9-6 victory Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
The Braves were 35-8 coming into the game when leading after six, and they helped their cause by adding two more runs in the seventh. But their 6-3 lead fell by the wayside after a Rays outburst that was fueled by five hits and a costly error by reliever Matt Marksberry, who missed first base while covering on a ground ball.
"If that's not resilient, I'm not sure what is," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We battled our way back to get it 4-3, then they added more on, and then we just kept coming. It was a pretty impressive inning we put together there. Some good at-bats, some key at-bats from a lot of different people."
The big inning got Jake Odorizzi off the hook for the loss after he surrendered six runs on nine hits in six-plus innings. Grady Sizemore, who homered three times during the Rays' five-game homestand, went deep off Matt Wisler, but the Braves starter was solid otherwise, tossing five innings of two-run ball for a no-decision.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Not so fast: The Braves did their best to put the Rays away in the seventh with a two-run inning, but the Rays responded in the bottom half with a six-run frame that proved to be the difference. James Loney doubled to bring home one, and Logan Forsythe followed with a sacrifice fly to plate another. Brandon Guyer then doubled to score Loney, and he scored on Marksberry's misstep. With the lead already in hand after Guyer crossed home, Curt Casali capped the inning with a two-run home run that clanged off the left-field foul pole.
Bottoms up: The 8-9 hitters in the Braves' order delivered clutch hits in a second-inning rally that gave the team a three-run advantage. With runners at the corners and two outs, Joey Terdoslavich lined a double to left that plated A.J. Pierzynski with the game's first run, and Pedro Ciriaco followed with a two-run single to right to make the score 3-0. Ciriaco would line a solo home run to left in the fifth and collect a sacrifice fly in the seventh to match his career high with four RBIs.
"We play to win games. I'm happy because I had a good game but the most important thing is to win, especially at this level," said Ciriaco.
Braves' bullpen off the mark: Marksberry allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits -- including three doubles -- in the decisive seventh inning while Ryan Kelly, who was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after the game, surrendered the towering, two-run blast by Casali that capped the Rays' scoring. In the month of August, the Braves' bullpen has pitched to a 6.34 ERA, allowing 23 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings of work.
"It's a box of chocolates sometimes when you have that many inexperienced guys in the bullpen, but we fought, we battled, we had a three-run lead there, and we just couldn't hold them off," said Braves' manager Fredi Gonzalez
How it's done: In contrast to the Braves bullpen, the Rays' relievers closed the door. After Odorizzi departed in the seventh, Alex Colome, Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger combined to hold Atlanta hitless and only allowed two baserunners -- two walks from Boxberger in the ninth -- in their three innings.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:Julio Teheran (7-6, 4.57 ERA) will take the ball on Friday when the Braves open a weekend series with the D-backs at Turner Field at 7:35 p.m. ET. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed three earned runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Marlins last Friday, but didn't factor in the decision in the Braves' 6-3 victory in Atlanta. The outing was Teheran's second-consecutive quality start and third in his last four trips to the hill.
Rays: Nate Karns (7-5, 3.52 ERA) will return home to Arlington Friday when he gets the start for the Rays against the Rangers to kick off a three-game series at 8:05 p.m. ET. On May 8, the right-hander faced off against Texas and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out nine in seven innings en route to a win.