Thursday’s MLB: Rays at Nats, Marlins at Red Sox

Published on June 21 at 8:18 a.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

**Rays at Nationals**

–Tampa Bay (38-30, +411) captured a 5-4 win as a minus-144 road favorite in Tuesday night’s series opener. David Price gave up three earned runs over seven innings en route to collecting his ninth win of the season. Fernando Rodney retired the side in order in the ninth for his 20th save. Carlos Pena led the Rays’ offense with a pair of hits, including his ninth homer of the year.

–Washington (39-27, +1105) improved to 19-14 at home with last night’s 3-2 win over the Rays as an expensive minus-219 ‘chalk.’ Stephen Strasburg threw seven strong inning and fanned 10 batters on his way to running his record to 9-1. The Nationals maintained a three-game lead in the National League East over the second-place Mets.

–Nats manager Davey Johnson created controversy and drew the ire of Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon by appealing to the umpires in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s loss to the Rays. Johnson asked the umps to check the glove of Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta, who formerly played for the Nats. The umps indeed found the presence of a foreign substance in Peralta’s glove and he was immediately ejected. After the game, Maddon told the press, “It’s kind of a common practice that people have done this for years. To point one guy out because he had pitched here a couple of years, it’s probably common knowledge based on that.
So I thought it was a real cowardly — and I’ve used that word twice this year — it was kind of a [wimpy] move to go out there and do that under those circumstances. I like the word [wimpy] right there.” Instead of wimpy, Maddon chose a word that can also mean cat.

–Tampa Bay is in third place in the AL East, three games back of the loop-leading Yankees.

–Johnson will give the starting nod to Gio Gonzalez, who is 8-3 with a 2.52 ERA. The Nats are 10-3 in his 13 outings and the ‘under’ is 7-6. Gonzalez is 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA in six home starts.

–The Rays will send LHP Matt Moore (4-5, 4.16 ERA) to the bump. Moore is 1-2 with a 5.01 ERA in four road assignments.

–Tampa Bay has a 17-15 road record but has struggled against lefties with a 9-13 ledger.

–Washington owns a 9-7 record in 16 games against left-handed pitchers.

–Totals have been an overall wash for the Nats (31-31).

–The ‘under’ is 36-28 overall for the Rays, but they have seen the ‘over’ go 5-3 in their last eight contests.

–As of early this morning, most books were listing the Nats as minus-135 favorites with a total of seven ‘over’ (minus-120). Gamblers can take Washington on the run line (minus 1 ½ runs) for a plus-160 payout (risk $100 to win $160).

–The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Eastern.

**Marlins at Red Sox**

–Most books opened Boston (35-33, -472) as a minus-135 ‘chalk’ with a total of 10 ‘over’ (minus-120). The Red Sox are plus-150 on the run line (risk $100 to win $150).

–Miami (33-35, -818) lost a 7-5 decision in Tuesday’s series opener at Fenway Park. Mark Buehrle gave up six earned runs in five innings of work as his record fell to 5-8. Logan Morrison supplied all of the Marlins’ offense by driving in five runs with a pair of doubles and a homer.

–Boston has a four-game winning streak and has won six of its last seven following last night’s 15-5 win over Miami. David Ortiz cranked a grand slam for his third homer in as many games and Daniel Nava set the table with four base hits in the blowout victory.

–Ozzie Guillen’s squad has lost 12 of its last 14 games since June. Guillen will send Carlos Zambrano (4-5, 3.92) to the hill in this spot. The veteran righty is 3-2 with a 2.36 ERA in seven road assignments.

–Bobby Valentine will counter Zambrano with RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA. Matsuzaka is 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in one home start t his year.

–With last night’s loss, Miami fell to 16-17 on the road. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are just 16-19 at home.

–The ‘over’ is 38-28 overall for Boston, 21-13 in its home games.

–The ‘over’ is 35-31 overall for the Marlins, but they have seen the ‘under’ cash at a lucrative 20-13 clip in their road games.

–Dice-K will throw the first pitch at 7:10 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

–After getting swept by the Yankees at Turner Field last week, Atlanta took two of three in the Bronx thanks to a 10-5 win in Wednesday’s rubber game in the Bronx. The Braves hooked up their backers as plus-145 underdogs. Jason Heyward cracked a pair of homers, while Martin Prado went 3-for-5 with a double and a dinger. Tommy Hanson worked only five innings but picked up his eighth win nonetheless.

–The news wasn’t all good for the Braves yesterday, however. Brandon Beachy (5-5, 2.00) was diagnosed with a ligament tear in his elbow by Dr. James Andrews, who will perform Tommy John surgery on the right-hander today. Beachy will miss the rest of the season and hopefully be ready to return by the 2013 All-Star break.

–Veteran RHP Roy Oswalt will make his debut for the Texas Rangers on Friday when they host the Rockies. Oswalt pitched four minor-league games to prepare, posting a 1-1 record and 5.87 ERA.

–After missing four consecutive games with a virus, Texas slugger Josh Hamilton returned to the lineup in his team’s 7-3 win Tuesday at San Diego. Hamilton went 2-for-5 with a triple and a pair of RBIs to improve his MLB-best total to 66.

–The Rangers have won six in a row and own a five-game lead over the Angels in the AL West.

–The ‘over’ is an MLB-best 44-25 overall for the Phillies.

–The ‘under’ is an MLB-best 44-25 for the Angels.

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