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TB@PHI: Conrad's two doubles drive home four runs

PHILADELPHIA -- Joe Maddon went to the bullpen a little early in Game 2 of Sunday's day-night doubleheader against the Phillies.

Cesar Ramos left the bullpen in center field and ran toward the mound -- to pitch to the first batter of the game.

If that wasn't strange enough, the left-hander got a quick hook, after throwing just 40 pitches and not allowing a hit over 2 2/3 innings.

Everything made sense to those following the Rays' saga for the past week. If ever there were a baseball soap opera, the Rays lived it. The culmination of those events came to pass in the Rays' 7-3 win over the Phillies in the second game to complete the doubleheader sweep.

"We like stormy weather, and I guess that's kind of like that back home right now," Maddon said. "I heard they're kayaking down Bayshore [Boulevard]. That sounds like fun. In a situation like this, there was not a whole lot for the fans back home to do except watch the Rays on TV. Hopefully they got a chance to watch us. It was a pretty good day."

The Rays won the first game behind seven strong innings from starter David Price, a three-run homer by Carlos Pena in the eighth, and a shutdown ninth by closer Fernando Rodney.

The Rays' drama-filled week began with the news that Evan Longoria wasn't as close to coming back from his partially torn left hamstring as expected. Further drama entered the picture when Joel Peralta received an eight-game suspension for having too much pine tar in his glove. Peralta began serving his suspension on Saturday, leaving the Rays a man short on their active roster.

Finally, the Rays were rained out on Friday night, which made playing a doubleheader on Sunday a necessity, since these were Interleague games and the teams could not find common dates later in the season to facilitate a makeup game.

Ramos is a reliever and found himself on the mound at the start of the game because he and fellow Rays relievers were needed to fill a start that had to be made when the rotation got knocked out of synch due to Friday's rainout.

Ramos did well, allowing no runs, no hits and three walks while striking out three before getting pulled after 2 2/3 innings for Wade Davis, who went another 2 2/3 innings, as did Brandon Gomes before J.P. Howell pitched the ninth.

"Everything, man, just trying to piece that all together, when was the right time to take Ramos out," Maddon said. "Gomer was the hero, outstanding, really cool in some hot situations. A lot of little subplots working today, pretty much what you would call a team victory."

Gomes got the win, buying into the task handed to the bullpen on Sunday night.

"You got all hands on deck there, so everybody has to be ready for inning one," Gomes said. "Cesar went out there and did a great job. Then everybody was going out there trying to keep their pitch count down and get as many innings out of everybody as we can. Those games are a lot of fun."

Newcomer Brooks Conrad tied a career high with four RBIs, going 2-for-3 with two doubles, including a big one off Phillies starter Cliff Lee in the second.

"It feels good," Conrad said. "I was just fired up when Tampa claimed me. I just heard great things about the organization. I came real close to coming here in the offseason as a free agent. So it feels great, come over here and help the team right away. Get in and get a chance to play a little bit. It's a great feeling, man. What a team we've got here."

Lee has had his way with the Rays in the past, particularly in the 2010 playoffs, when he twice won for the Rangers in their Division Series against the Rays. Maddon felt like Conrad's hit played a big part in hanging a loss on the Phillies left-hander, who is mysteriously still looking for his first win of the season.

"You just have to get the hit, if [Lee] wiggles out of that inning where we got the double down the line, obviously then it's a different ballgame," Maddon said. "Even [pitching coach Jim Hickey] said he's starting to look normal after that happened. He was starting to get kind of comfortable out there and that was no fun. But we kept battling."

In hindsight, Lee didn't like how he pitched in the second.

"Obviously, the second inning, I let things get out of hand there," Lee said. "I walked the first guy of that inning and that was a bad inning. I feel like I'm better than that. I made some mistakes and they made me pay for it."

The Rays went into Sunday's action knowing they had to face Cole Hamels in the first game and Lee in the second, which is an imposing thought for starting a day of baseball. Yet they came away with a doubleheader sweep, despite getting just 10 hits.

"How about the two starters we beat?" Maddon said. "We didn't beat Hamels, but, nevertheless, he started the game. How about those two guys? Those are among the best pitchers in all of baseball, definitely among the best left-handers in all of baseball. And we got them both on the same day. That's pretty sweet."

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