by Steve Carney
ST PETERSBURG, Fla. (620 WDAE) - Sean Rodriguez welcomed his fourth child, a son, Thursday, then welcomed the Texas Rangers Friday with a monster day at the plate.
Rodriguez hit a three-run homer and drove in four, while Ryan Hanigan added a three-run bomb of his own, helping power the Tampa Bay Rays to an 8-1 victory over Texas at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay wasted little time getting on the board, loading the bases against Joe Saunders with one out in the first inning on walks to Wil Myers and Ben Zobrist and a single by Evan Longoria. Logan Forsythe struck out for the second out, but Saunders hit Rodriguez on a 2-2 count to force in Myers with the first run.
The Tampa Bay first baseman was back at it two innings later after Zobrist reached on the first of four Texas errors, and Longoria drew a walk from Saunders, blasting a pitch deep into the seats in left for his first home run of the year to make it 4-0.
Myers made it 5-0 an inning later, singling in Desmond Jennings, who doubled one batter earlier.
Saunders would leave two batters later, as a Longoria comebacker hit him in the left ankle. X-rays were negative, and the left-hander was diagnosed with just a bruise.
Reliever Daniel McCutchen would get out of the fourth, but allowed Hanigan to make it 8-0, with a three run homer of his own, bringing in Rodriguez, who doubled to start the inning, and Brandon Guyer, who reached on an error by Adrian Beltre.
Jake Odorizzi, allowed just three hits in six shutout innings of work, walking three and striking out four to earn his first Major League victory.
Texas finally got on the scoreboard in the eighth inning off reliever Josh Lueke, as Elvis Andrus doubled with one out and scored one batter later on a single by Prince Fielder. Lueke was able to get out of the inning with no further damage.
The Rays can clinch a winning homestand with a victory Saturday night. David Price (1-0, 2.45 ERA) gets the start against Nick Martinez, who will make his Major League debut. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10, with pregame coverage starting at 6:00 on WDAE with the Suncoast Hyundai Dealers Inside Pitch.
NOTES: Manager Joe Maddon used his first challenge under the new replay system on a no-catch call on a J.P. Arencibia base hit in the seventh. The call was overturned to end the inning.