Still, Tampa has gotten itself into a contending position since the return of their all-star thrid baseman, Evan Longoria, who missed much of April, and has struggled to regain his award-winning form.
In Monday's 8-4 win at Milwaukee, some of that old spark showed up, as Longoria singled in a run and scored in the 7th inning, then proceeded to belt a three-run homer that completed Tampa's scoring and put the game out of reach.
The homer was only Longoria's 6th of the season and just his second in June. The power outage has been a concern for the Rays, because Longoria average 27 homers in his first three seasons.
Kershaw didn't allow a hit after the 4th inning, setting down 17 of the last 18 batters he faced, walking one. He ended the game with a flourish, striking out the side in the 9th. Kershaw fanned 11 for the game, giving him the NL lead in Ks, with 117, leading Roy Halladay (114) and Cliff Lee (111), but his was only one of two impressive performances by National League starters.
homer won the game
While Hudson's mound heroics were worthy of note, his plate appearance in the bottom of the 7th inning provided the winning runs for the Braves, as he blasted a two-run homer for the 2-0 Atlanta win.
Hudson retired 20 straight batters from the 2nd inning through the 8th, but walked the leadoff hitter, Mike McCoy, in the 9th and then gave up his second hit of the game, a single by Yunel Escobar. That's when closer Craig Kimbrel was summoned from the bullpen. He promptly struck out the next three batters, getting his 20th save of the season, tying him with Brian Wilson of the Giants for the second most in the league. Colorado's Huston Street leads with 21.
INTERLEAGUE TALLY: The National League managed to pick up four wins on Monday, but fell further behind as the AL teams won six, expanding their lead to 54-40.