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Tampa Bay wins 6th straight, 7-2 over St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS - For a brief second, Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Odorizzi could swear he was at Tropicana Field.

Odorizzi, pitching 33 miles from his hometown of Highland, Illinois, allowed two runs over 5 2-3 innings and Yunel Escobar highlighted a five-run fifth inning with a two-run double to lead the Rays to a 7-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.

It was the Rays' season-high sixth straight win. They have outscored the opposition 36-11 during the run.

Odorizzi, pitching in St. Louis for the first time in his career, had as many as 500 supporters in the crowd of 43,623. The group made plenty of noise for its hometown hero when he left the game.

"It was pretty loud when I came out," he said. "There were a lot of people standing up. I figured I had to tip my hat to them. I wanted to say thanks to everyone who came out from my town."

Evan Longoria added a solo homer in the ninth for Tampa Bay.

St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright, making his first appearance since starting for the NL in the All-Star game, gave up six runs, four earned, in 4 2-3 innings. Wainwright (12-5) was trying to become the first 13-game winner in the NL. He walked four and hit a batter in his second-shortest outing of the season. He allowed seven earned runs in 4 1-3 innings in a 9-4 loss to San Francisco on May 30.

"That (fifth) inning was a train wreck," Wainwright said. "It's hard to explain things weird like that happening. Every now and then, you have a really crazy inning like that."

Manager Mike Matheny agreed,

"We just couldn't stop the bleeding," he said. "That inning, he just couldn't get through it."

Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday hit solo home runs for the Cardinals.

But the night belonged to Odorizzi, who gave up five hits, struck out eight and walked three in improving to 4-1 over his last seven starts. He has allowed three earned runs or less in 15 of 20 starts this season. He gave up a leadoff homer to Carpenter on his fifth pitch of the night and then settled down with four successive scoreless innings.

"I was nervous in the first," he said. "But things got better."

Odorizzi said his defence supplied the turning point.

After giving up the homer, he walked Kolten Wong. But catcher Jose Molina threw out Wong stealing. Desmond Jennings then made a nice running catch in centre field. Odorizzi took over from there giving up two hits over the next four frames.

"He was a little amped early," manager Joe Maddon said. "But then he started making some great pitches."

Tampa Bay first baseman James Loney said Odorizzi displayed his character in battling back.

"It just shows you what kind of guy he is," Loney said.

The Rays won their seventh successive road game, one shy of tying the franchise record.

Odorizzi outduelled Wainwright in a rematch of a June 10 game that the Cardinals won 1-0.

The Rays sent 10 batters to the plate in chasing Wainwright in the fifth. Matt Joyce broke a 1-1 tie with a run-scoring double. Wainwright, who walked three, hit a batter and committed a costly error in the inning, walked Loney one batter later with the bases loaded. Escobar followed with a ground-rule double to push the lead to 5-1.

Odorizzi, in his first major league at-bat, executed a perfect squeeze bunt in the second.

Maddon was ejected in the third inning by home plate umpire Mark Ripperger. Maddon was arguing a called third strike on Ben Zobrist from the dugout. It was Maddon's fourth ejection of the season and 36th with the Rays.

"It was a misunderstanding," Maddon said. "Their pitcher started yelling at (our) dugout and I'm yelling back at him and the umpire thinks I'm yelling at the umpire and he kicks me out."

Wainwright admitted to barking toward the Rays bench. But he said he was ready to continue pitching and was upset that Maddon continued to command Ripperger's attention.

"It was the first time I ever did that," Wainwright said. "I was ready to pitch and I thought it was time for us to move on and I said so."

NOTES: Carpenter's homer leading off the game was his second of the season and fourth of his career. It broke an 0-for-13 skid. ... Struggling St. Louis OF Allen Craig started consecutive games for the first time since July 5. ...Tampa Bay is making only its second trip to St. Louis. The Cardinals won two of three from the Rays May 16-18, 2008. ... Maddon batted Odorizzi eighth in the batting order to keep OF Kevin Kiermaier in the No. 9 hole. Kiermaier is 12 for 23 in his last eight games. ... Cardinals RHP Lance Lynn (11-6, 3.13) will face RHP Alex Cobb (5-6, 4.08) in the finale of the two-game series Wednesday. ... Odorizzi is second among AL rookies with 124 strikeouts.

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