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Tampa's Carson cranks three homers in win04/24/2006 11:02 PM ET
By Eric Justic / MLB.com
Matt Carson broke out of a slump in a big way, powering visiting Tampa's 8-6 victory over Sarasota with three homers, five RBIs and a triple.
Carson raised his batting average from .158 to .238 with a 4-for-4 performance. The 24-year-old entered the game with one home run and two RBIs and homered in his first three at-bats.
"I've never had a game like this. I had a three home run game in high school, but this is something special because it helped the team," Carson said. "We've been struggling and couldn't get anything together. But this is special because it's the first time we've been able to win two games in a row this season."
Carson struck out twice on an inside fastball on Sunday, so he was sitting on the same pitch when he led off the second inning. The Yankee outfielder crushed Sarasota starter James Avery's offering off the left-field foul pole. Then, with two runners on base in the third, he worked a 3-0 count and looked down to third for a sign.
"They gave me the green light," Carson said. "I'm a fastball hitter and they threw the pitch right down the middle so I just tried to put a good swing on it and I did. Tonight they just kept throwing me fastballs."
Carson followed the same strategy in the sixth when he connected for a solo shot off reliever Carlos Alvarado (1-1) to tie the score at 6-6. He had a chance to go for four homers with the game still tied in the eighth, but his only thought was getting on base and helping Tampa (8-10) find the winning column.
"I remember coming up in the eighth, I overheard someone say just hit a single this time," Carson said of his triple. "At that point we really needed a baserunner. So I just hit one over the first baseman's head. It was curving foul but once the umpire put up the fair sign, I was off to the races."
Two batters later, Marcos Vechionacci plated Carson with a sacrifice fly to left field. In the ninth, Carson was intentionally walked.
The 2002 fifth-round draft pick hasn't been a home run hitter in his five professional seasons. His career high in homers is 15 in 2004 while playing for Battle Creek of the Midwest League and Tampa. His one multi-homer game came on June 8, 2004, when he slugged two homers and five RBIs with Battle Creek.
"At that point, that was a big highlight," Carson said. "But no one can take this away from me. I don't think I'll forget it and I don't think my wife, Lisa, will either. She's at most of my games, but she wasn't at this one so she's probably going to say she shouldn't come to any games now."
Yankees reliever Chase Wright (2-0) allowed one hit over 1 2/3 scoreless frames. Michael Gardner recorded the last three outs for his first save.
Alvarado took the loss in relief for Sarasota (8-10), yielding two runs on three hits in three innings. He struck out four and walked one.
Hector Made followed Carson's blast in the second with his second homer. Ben Himes added a solo shot in the ninth.
The teams conclude the three-game series at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.