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New papa Rodriguez shines in 8-1 win over Texas

ST. PETERSBURG -- Who’s your daddy?

In the case of 2-day old Zekiel Cruz Rodriguez, that would be Sean John Rodriguez, who celebrated his son’s birth on Thursday with a career-tying night Friday in the Tampa Bay Rays 8-1 win over the Texas Rangers before an extended family of 14,304 at Tropicana Field.

Rodriguez tied his career-high with four RBI -- one for each of his children -- and delivered his first home run of the season, a three-run blast to left field in the third inning that broke open a one-run game.

“Obviously, the birth of your own child beats anything,” Rodriguez said, “but that’s definitely a good way to finish the night, having been through a lot (Thursday) with the baby coming, being around him.”

Rodriguez tapped the hospital bracelet he still wore on his left wrist as he circled the bases.

“I definitely thought about (him) after I hit it,” Rodriguez said.

Jake Odorizzi celebrated the happy occasion by pitching six shutout innings to earn his first major league victory.

And if that wasn’t enough. Maddon won his first challenge of the season.

Oh, baby.

Z-Rod’s dad forced in the first run of the game in the first inning when he was struck by a pitch with the bases-loaded.

Playing first base in place of James Loney, who had the night off against Rangers lefty Joe Saunders, Rodriguez made a diving stop in the fifth inning to rob Leonys Martin of a leadoff hit.

“Go Daddy did a nice job,” Maddon said. “He came in and I said, ‘Let’s go, Daddy,’ and he did.”

Giselle Rodriguez delivered her career-high fourth child, Baby Zekiel, at 12:47 p.m., Thursday at Bayfront Baby Place. The kid checked in at 9 pounds and was 24-1/4 inches long.

“It’s always something special,” S-Dad said before the game. “It’s something a lot of people I hope can all experience, because obviously, bringing a child into the world is God given. It’s not something that anybody can do. Only God can bless you with a child. We’re grateful for that.”

Rodriguez missed used only one day of his allotted three for paternity leave.

“Understand, Sean knew there was a lefty pitching,” Maddon said, “so no way he was going to miss (the game).”

Wil Myers had an RBI single in the fourth inning. Ryan Hanigan hit his first home run as a Ray -- a three-run shot in the fifth inning to give Odorizzi an 8-0 lead. Rodriguez scored on Hanigan’s homer, having reached base on a double,

“He had a pretty complete evening, including a little bouncing baby boy at home,” Maddon said. “Good for him.”

Odorizzi, making his seventh big league start, allowed only three hits. He struck out four and walked three.

“It’s a surreal kind of moment,” Odorizzi said of his first victory. “Finally, the first one finally came. It feels like it took a while, but I got it out of the way.”

All of the Rangers hits against Odorizzi came in the fourth inning. Price Fielder led off with a single. Alex Rios singled one out later to put runners on first and second.

Mitch Moreland lined a hit into right field and was on his way to second when he realized Rios had stopped at second, because Fielder had stopped at third.

Fielder took off for the plate but was eventually tagged out after a brief run down.

Odorizzi did not allow a run in his final 9 2/3 innings last season with the Rays. He stretched that streak to 15 2/3 after Friday’s outing.

“Sean did everything,” Odorizzi said. “The home run, great defensively. He’s got that new-dad strength at the plate.”

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