Longoria is spark for Rays in debut

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. --- Cool and calm, or so it seemed.

Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays appeared perfectly at home in the playoffs with a Game 1 victory over Chicago. The rookie said looks can be deceiving, though.

"I was nervous," he said. "I think if you're not nervous in this situation, you're really not soaking in the moment."

The All-Star third baseman homered in his first two at-bats and the surprising American League East champions were a big hit in their postseason debut, beating the White Sox 6-4 on Thursday in their playoff opener.

A lack of postseason experience was not a factor as the Rays kept winning at Tropicana Field, where they had the best home record in the majors at 57-24 after 10 years of being baseball's doormat.

Chicago beat Minnesota in the AL Central tiebreaker Tuesday, and took a 3-1 lead on Dewayne Wise's three-run homer in the third inning. But Javier Vazquez could not hold it.

Longoria became the second player to homer in his first two postseason at-bats, joining one of his former minor league hitting coaches, Gary Gaetti, who did it with the Minnesota Twins in 1987.

Longoria homered on his first postseason pitch, a 421-foot leadoff drive in the second. He put Tampa Bay ahead 4-3 with another solo shot in the third, a 430-foot homer off one of the infamous catwalks that support the roof at Tropicana.

"I was just looking for a pitch out over the plate I could hit," said Longoria, who was 3-for-3 with three RBI.


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