Howie Kendrick and Trayce Thompson keyed a four-run rally in the fifth inning, and Scott Kazmir pitched into the seventh to lift the Dodgers over the Rays 10-5 in the opener of a two-game series on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
The sudden offensive outburst matched the Dodgers' total runs scored in the final six games of their homestand.
Kendrick broke a tie in the fifth inning with a double into the left field corner with the bases loaded to score two runs. The hit got several monkeys off the back of Kendrick, who struggled mightily to open the season.
It was his first extra-base hit of the season, his first run(s) batted in of the season, and coupled with his second-inning single his first multi-hit game of the year. Kendrick before the two-run double reached 60 plate appearances, tied for the second-most in Los Angeles Dodgers history to start a season without an extra-base hit or RBI.
Kendrick matched third baseman Ken McMullen's start in 1964 and outfielder John Shelby's opening to the 1989 season, surpassed only by the 67 plate appearances to start 1995 by catcher Carlos Hernandez.
Kendrick, who was 8-for-56 (.143) entering play on Tuesday, had four hits on the night.
Thompson followed with a two-run single to beat the shift, giving the Dodgers a four-run advantage. The hit also gave Thompson a new career high with four RBI.
Yasiel Puig added a titanic three-run shot in the ninth inning to put the game away, giving the Dodgers their first game with three home runs all season.
It marked the first time the Dodgers got home runs from all three starting outfielders since April 13, 2010, when Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier all went deep against Arizona.
The first two RBI for Thompson came in the second inning, with a mammoth home run that was so high it caused the Tropicana Field ground rules to come into play.
Thompson's HR in the @Dodgers 2nd hit the C-ring (and hasn't come down). It's only the 6th fair ball to hit and lodge in a Trop catwalk.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 4, 2016
But after the Dodgers took a 2-1 lead, it wasn't only right, said
Fred Joc Pederson, who hit a ball over the center field wall to pad the Dodgers advantage. It was the first start of the season against a left-hander for Pederson, whose home run off Matt Moore was his first hit in seven at-bat against southpaws this season.
Kazmir & going deep
Rays catcher Curt Casali, who took a pitch on a bad bounce off his neck in the fourth inning, a ball that somehow found its way under his face mask, stayed in the game and one inning later launched a no-doubter into the left field seats for a two-run home run that tied the score at 3-3.
It was the second home run of the season for Casali, just 8-for-51 (.157) on the season. He hit 10 home runs in 113 plate appearances in 2015.
Kazmir would give up a solo shot to Steve Pearce later, and has allowed a team-high seven home runs in 139 batters faced this season, but there were more positive signs in his start on Tuesday.
Kazmir struck out a season-high nine, his most in 36 starts, and his 6⅔ innings represented a season high. He threw 111 pitches on Tuesday after throwing 113 in six innings last Wednesday, and only walked one on the night, the fifth time in six starts this season Kazmir has walked zero or one batter.
The win was the 100th for Kazmir in his career, including 28 at Tropicana Field, his home ballpark in his first six major league seasons.
Setting it up
Joe Blanton, thrust a bit higher in the bullpen depth chart with the recent struggles of Chris Hatcher, recorded the final out of the seventh inning to strand a runner on base, then breezed through the eighth inning as well, needing just 10 pitches to record his four outs.
It was the 10th straight scoreless appearance for Blanton, dating back to April 10.
J.P. Howell pitched the ninth inning with a six-run lead, but after two walks, a hit batter and 30 pitches later, he left with the bases loaded, a run in, and Kenley Jansen coming in to put out the fire.
Jansen got pinch hitter Corey Dickerson to fly out to end the game, recording his 10th save of the season.
The Rays scored in the first inning off Kazmir thanks to an RBI double by Evan Longoria, his former teammate. That double scored Brandon Guyer, who was hit by a pitch for the whopping seventh time already this season. Through 25 team games, that puts Guyer on pace for 46 HBP this season, which would be the fifth-most in any season.
But the kicker is that Tuesday was just Guyer's 15th game of the season. He has been hit by seven pitches in just 49 plate appearances. Guyer led the American League with 24 HBP in 2015 despite playing in just 128 games and amassing 385 PA.
It was reminiscent of Mike Kinkade, the former Dodger whose 16 HBP in 2003 are second-most in LA Dodgers history despite only 191 plate appearances that season for Kinkade.
The Dodgers finish their Tampa two-step with Wednesday night's series finale. It's another battle of left-handers, with Alex Wood on the mound for the Dodgers against Drew Smyly for the Rays.
Home runs: Trayce Thompson (2), Joc Pederson (4), Yasiel Puig (3); Curt Casali (2), Steve Pearce (2)
WP - Scott Kazmir (2-2): 6⅔ IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
LP - Matt Moore (1-3): 4⅓ IP, 8 hits, 7 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (10): 1 up, 1 down