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Rays notes: Zobrist providing double trouble

BOSTON - Ben Zobrist doubled in each of his final two at-bats during the Tampa Bay Rays' 4-0 win over Boston on Wednesday to raise his total of two-base hits this season to a major league-leading 40. His previous career-best was 28, which he did in both 2009 and 2010. "I really don't have any explanation for that," Zobrist said. "If I smell it I'm going for it right now. I got jammed on a pitch and I kept it fair on that last one (Wednesday). I feel like I've had a lot of those this year where I just got enough of it where it's just down the line. I've hit some hard too, but I've had a lot of those other ones, too, and I think that's where that higher number comes from." Manager Joe Maddon had an explanation.
"He drives the ball," Maddon said. "He could drive the ball in gaps or down lines, and that's where the doubles come from. He's not just a slappy singles hitter. He has home run power, but he drives balls in gaps and down lines." That Zobrist is a switch-hitter also helps, Maddon said. So does his mindset of thinking double every time he leaves the batter's box, which is something he wants every hitter to think. "Every time you hit a double you're in scoring position," Maddon said. "That's the beauty of the double." Former Ray Aubrey Huff holds the team record for doubles in a season with 47 in 2003. Zobrist is on pace to break that record. He's also on pace to join Pete Rose (1974-76), Lance Berkman (2001) and Brian Roberts (2009) as the only switch-hitters to lead the majors in doubles during the last 40 years. More on Price LHP David Price has faced the Red Sox four times this season and is 3-1, having held them to three or fewer runs on five or fewer hits in each game. He is the first pitcher to do that since Mike Mussina of the Yankees in 2002. Look out! INF Sean Rodriguez and C Kelly Shoppach were each hit twice by pitches before LHP David Price hit Red Sox RF Darnell McDonald during the seventh inning Wednesday. McDonald didn't seem to like it as he headed toward first. The inning end when McDonald was forced at second base, and he slid hard enough into Zobrist to nick Zobrist with his spike in the back of the second basemen's leg. Zobrist just ran off the field. "It appeared to me that he did not like being hit in the hip," Maddon said. When told Shoppach and Rodriguez were both hit during the series, Maddon said, "twice, got hit twice. We didn't cry." The Triple Play Rodriguez said he tried not to watch the highlight of his around-the-horn, 5-4-3 triple play during the fourth inning of Tuesday's win. He said his dad, Johnny, who manages the Cardinals Class A Quad Cities team, called and offered this: "Nice job." Rodriguez, who said he'd never hit into a triple play or even helped turn one before Tuesday, said he's not too upset to be known as the man who hit into a triple play. "There's no such thing as bad publicity, right?" he asked. Add a steal of home by Zobrist and the Rays became the first team since the 2004 Astros to steal home and hit into a triple play in the same game. A tough three for C.C. Former Rays LF Carl Crawford was out-played by Rays rookie LF Desmond Jennings over the three-game series. Jennings was 0-for-4 with a sacrifice bunt in Wednesday to snap his seven-game hitting streak, but had three hits in Tuesday's doubleheader, including a double and a long home run over the Green Monster in left field. Jennings also made a leaping catch against the famous wall in the first inning Tuesday night. Crawford, meanwhile, was 0-for-9 with five strikeouts – including one in all three at-bats Tuesday night – and didn't hit the ball out of the infield. He also dropped a foul ball near the left field stands Wednesday. Crawford, whose average fell to .249, was booed by Red Sox Nation. Noteworthy Maddon still hasn't decided who will pitch Sunday against the Mariners. It will be either RHP James Shields or RHP Jeff Niemann with the winner facing Justin Verlander and the Tigers on Monday … 3B Evan Longoria hit his 19th homer of he season Wednesday and has now hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games. He has five home runs, 14 RBIs and nine runs in that span … CF B.J. Upton homered and doubled Wednesday to give him two extra-base hits in a game for the third time this year. He's hit safely in nine of his last 11 games at Fenway Park with five home runs, 10 RBIs and 11 runs scored … With two hits Wednesday, DH Johnny Damon raised his Fenway Park batting average to .307.
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