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TB@MIA: Rays react to series sweep of the Marlins

MIAMI -- Marlins Park turned out to be a friendly destination for the tourists wearing all white.

The Rays, who arrived in Miami wearing all white as dictated by the dress code for one of the team's many themed road trips, took care of business in South Florida. Sunday's 4-2 win gave the Rays a three-game sweep over the weekend, earning the team from St. Petersburg early bragging rights for the Florida rivalry, facilitated by Interleague Play.

The Rays also extended their winning streak against the Marlins to seven games, dating back to May 22, 2011, while remaining in first place in the American League East with the best record in the junior circuit at 35-25.

The Rays lost the first two games of their road trip before finishing with a bang by winning four straight, scoring 29 runs in four games after scoring just 27 in their previous 10.

"It's a little bit of a roller coaster," Matt Joyce said. "That's the way hitting goes, that's the way baseball goes. There's ups and downs. And it was just a case of we had to keep swinging it. The offense is going to come around. And obviously yesterday was a huge game for us and we kind of carried it into today. And hopefully we keep it going."

After scoring 13 runs Saturday night, the Rays' offense got busy early Sunday when B.J. Upton doubled off Anibal Sanchez to left field with one out in the first to score Carlos Pena from first base for a 1-0 Rays lead.

The Rays added a three-spot in the fourth via a solo home run by Joyce and a two-run blast by Elliot Johnson that pushed the lead to 4-0.

James Shields started for the Rays and perpetuated his legacy against the Marlins. After going 2-0 against the Marlins in 2011 via two complete games in which he allowed no earned runs, the Rays ace went 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits to earn his seventh win of the season.

Shields has now won four straight against the Marlins, moving to 6-2 with a 3.84 ERA in 10 career starts against the Marlins. Sunday he held the Marlins scoreless through six, an accomplishment that included a strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton with two outs in the sixth and two aboard.

"I think that strikeout was big," Shields said. "He's definitely a good hitter. ... I threw a pretty good changeup right there."

Gaby Sanchez finally broke Shields' spell with an RBI double with no outs in the seventh. Shields retired one more hitter before Jake McGee took over with one out in the seventh and runners at first and second. The hard-throwing left-hander proceeded to put out the fire by retiring pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs on a flyout to left and Jose Reyes on a groundout to second.

Joel Peralta started the eighth for the Rays and retired the first two hitters before Stanton singled to left, moved to second on defensive indifference then scored on Logan Morrison's single to right to cut the lead to 4-2.

Fernando Rodney worked the ninth to earn his 18th save of the season.

"[Shields] was very good, McGee was outstanding once again, and so were Joel and Fernando, kind of a team win out there today," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

The Marlins have now lost six in a row, falling to 31-29 on the season. Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen gave all the credit to the Rays for the outcome of the three-game series.

"They did everything better than we did all weekend," Guillen said. "They played good, they executed, they pitched well, they got big hits -- huge hits -- and we didn't."

After an off-day, the Rays will host the Mets for three at Tropicana Field this week before hosting the Marlins next weekend. Shields let it be known that the Rays have plenty of respect for their Florida-state rivals.

"Whether they're scuffling or not, they have a pretty good lineup over there," Shields said. "They can do some damage at any given time. They showed it yesterday. We had them 9-0 and they got us to 9-4. ... You have to be careful with those guys. But we did our job this week."

The Rays have now won eight of their last nine road games on getaway days. Maddon smiled when asked about that fact.

"They like that plane ride home," Maddon said. "They like to be happy. I like when they're happy, so it's all good."

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