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07/26/08 7:26 PM ET

Rays' offense excels late in games

Tampa Bay has tagged Kansas City's top relievers for runs

KANSAS CITY -- Although the Rays' bats have stayed cool during their first two games with the Royals, they have at least one consolation: They're hitting well in the late innings.

Tampa Bay has scored four of its seven runs of this series in the eighth and ninth innings, and those runs have come against Kansas City's three best relievers.

On Thursday, the Rays had plenty of opportunities against Royals starter Gil Meche, but were held scoreless until the eighth. They got on the board in the eighth off Ron Mahay and again in the ninth, when Evan Longoria doubled and then Carlos Pena drove him in.

Longoria scored off Joakim Soria, who has a 1.60 ERA entering Saturday.

"He mainly tries to get ahead with fastballs," Longoria said. "I knew we had to be aggressive against him."

Pena again came through with a late-inning RBI on Friday. He hit a two-run homer off reliever Leo Nunez, who hadn't given up a home run all season.

Now, the Rays are looking to capitalize on chances earlier in games.

"For the most part, we've done a pretty good job all year scoring late when it's necessary, so I'm grateful for that," manager Joe Maddon said. "But overall, we are leaving too many runners on base ."

Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.