Rays begin homestand with win over O's

Rays begin homestand with win over O's

ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Pena got mad. Then, he got even.

Pena took a Rocky Cherry fastball to the head in his third at-bat of the evening, resulting in a 9-7 Rays win over the Orioles in front of a crowd of 10,350 at Tropicana Field on Monday night.

"It hurt," Pena said. "It hurt a lot. I think I was more mad than anything."

Joe Maddon hustled onto the field as did Rays trainers to check out Pena when he moved to first base. Maddon's first take focused on Pena's demeanor, which worried the Rays manager.

"He wasn't smiling," Maddon said.

Such a reaction registered as abnormal since Pena's face is never without a smile.

Pena regrouped and retaliated in his next at bat when he hit the first pitch from Jim Hoey over the B-ring catwalk. Once Pena's blast struck the C-ring catwalk, the Rays first baseman had his 35th home run of the season and the Rays had a 6-4 lead. Pena's blast established a new single-season home run record for the Rays, breaking a tie with Jose Canseco (1999) and Aubrey Huff (2003).

"It's pretty cool," Pena said. "I'm extremely excited. It's a cool thing and I don't take it for granted. At heart I'm just a kid playing baseball."

Meanwhile, "Big Game" James Shields had to forget about a frustrating third inning in order to hang around long enough to accrue his 200th inning of the season.

The Rays right-hander pitched through the seventh to pick up his 11th win of the season to join Rolando Arrojo and Tanyon Sturtze as the third pitcher in Rays history to reach the blue-collar 200-inning milestone.

"That was one of my main goals coming in, to reach 200," Shields said. "I'm pretty excited about it. I think 200 innings is one of the best things in baseball for a starting pitcher."

Eating innings often means swallowing one's heart, and never was that more true than for Shields in the third, an inning that gave him the helpless look of a tourist wearing a zoot suit at a pickpocket convention. In short order, Shields suffered through a blown call at first, two errors, and a broken-bat single that added up to one earned run, but four on the scoreboard.

"I told him after he came out, that was the best composure I've ever seen you have in two years," Maddon said. "He battled through it. This guy's got great physical ability, he's got a great intensity about him, and then you combine that with the ability to let things roll off his back, that's what I saw tonight. That's the best composure I've seen him demonstrate in two years."

Shields managed to smile when asked about the third.

"It's tough, but the way we're playing right now I had a lot of confidence in our guys to come back," he said. "I think it's a grind. Day in and day out it's a grind. The season's a grind. Every game is a grind."

Fortunately for Shields and the Rays, the offense did not pack it in after taking what could have been a knockout punch in the third.

Wilson singled to open the bottom half of the third, Navarro followed with a double and Iwamura added an infield single to load the bases for Carl Crawford.

The speedy Crawford hit what appeared to be a run-scoring infield single, only first-base umpire Paul Nauert called him out, and once again replays seemed to indicate that Crawford beat the throw and that first baseman Kevin Millar's foot was off the base. Crawford couldn't believe the call and jumped in the air, double-pumping before slam dunking his helmet off the infield clay.

"It just caught me by surprise," Crawford said. "To see him pump his fist out, it just shocked me. We've always been getting calls that don't go our way, but tonight, that was a play I knew was right on."

Nauert ejected Crawford immediately. Rays first base coach George Hendrick got in between Crawford and Nauert, which turned out to be a good thing.

"I'm glad [Hendrick] was there because I probably would've done something I'd have regretted later on," Crawford said. "You watch that type of play ... it makes you want to run back outside from the clubhouse."

After Crawford's ejection, Delmon Young singled home two more to cut the O's lead to 4-3. Dioner Navarro singled home Greg Norton in the fourth to tie the score at 4 in advance of Pena's blast. Young added an RBI double in the seventh and Akinori Iwamura hit a two-run homer in the eighth to push the Rays lead to 9-4. Iwamura's blow turned out to be critical since closer Al Reyes surrendered a three-run homer to Ramon Hernandez in the ninth.

For Iwamura, the home run was his second in as many days since he had his bat confiscated by umpires Saturday in New York.

"I wish Joe Torre ask to check my bat earlier in the season," Iwamura teased.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.