(Sports Network) - What happens when a team that is struggling at home takes on a club that cant seem to win anywhere right now? Call it the opposite of the unstoppable force meeting the unmovable object. The Tampa Bay Rays try to get on track at Tropicana Field this evening in the opener of a three-game set versus the Florida Marlins, who try to avoid their second eight-game slide of the month. The Rays kicked off a six-game stay at home on Tuesday with a big shutout victory over the Boston Red Sox, but proceeded to drop the final two games of the series to fall to 15-18 at home this season. The series loss and the aforementioned home struggles now have Tampa Bay 5 1/2 games back of first- place Boston in the American League East. Casey Kotchman homered for Tampa Bay on Thursday, but the Rays left the tying runs on base in the ninth inning. Tampa Bays David Price also struggled in the start, issuing a season-high five walks over his five-inning outing. I didnt command the zone at all today with any pitch, said Price, who hadnt walked more than two batters in a start this season before yesterday. Youre not going to get by, especially against a team like Boston. Tampa Bay could turn its fortunes at home around tonight, given that it has taken six of its last nine at the Trop against Florida. However, the Marlins did take two of three over the Rays at home back in May and have won six of the past nine overall games in this series. Florida, though, brings just a 1-15 record in the month of June into this meeting. It was just swept in four games by the Philadelphia Phillies, with Thursdays 3-0 loss pushing the clubs skid to seven straight. The Marlins managed just two hits off Philadelphia ace Cliff Lee, who hurled a shutout. Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison both had singles, while Javier Vazquez allowed two runs over five innings to take the loss. Florida was shut out for the fifth time this season. That was a tough series. We battled, the guys are playing hard, Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. We ran into very good pitching. We just have to regroup and start again [Friday]. Set to make his third career start tonight is Floridas Brad Hand, who turned in a stellar debut on June 7 before struggling with his command five days later to fall to 0-2 with a 3.27 earned run average. Hand, a 2008 second-round pick, held Atlanta to just a run over six innings in his first big-league start, but took a 1-0 loss. The 21-year-old lefty then issued five walks over five innings Sunday versus Arizona, while getting charged with four runs -- three earned -- on five hits. I didnt really have any control, a feel for anything, got behind in the count, leaving a lot of balls up, Hand, who will make his first road start tonight, told Floridas website. So it kind of hurt me. Though he won for the first time in six starts on Sunday, Rays hurler Wade Davis still struggled on the mound and hell look for a better outing this evening. Davis moved to 5-5 with a 4.81 ERA in 13 starts despite allowing five runs -- four earned -- on eight hits and two homers over six-plus innings. Though he snapped a three-decision slide, the right-hander still gave up at least four earned runs for the fifth time in six starts and has been touched for 10 home runs in that time. Davis, 25, is winless in three career interleague starts, having gone 0-3 with a 3.78 ERA. He faces the Marlins for the first time. cheap stitched jerseys
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. The teams president and chief executive officer announced Tuesday the CFL club had an overall operating profit of $726,930 last year wiped out mainly because of delays in building the new $200-million Investors Group Field. PORTLAND, Ore. -- Shaka Smart and Co. pulled off the first major surprise of the NCAA tournament. Yep, VCU is back again. Bradford Burgess hit a key 3-pointer with 1:33 left and the 12th-seeded Rams held off Wichita State 62-59 on Thursday night. Smart was one of the tournaments biggest stars last year when he coached VCU to victories over Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas, making the Rams just the third No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four. The run ended when they lost to Butler in Houston. This VCU team moves on to a matchup with fourth-seeded Indiana (26-8), which advanced to Saturdays game with a 79-66 victory over New Mexico State at the Rose Garden. "We have different guys doing different things than last years team," Burgess said. "We want to make our own mark on this years tournament." Still, there are already similarities to last years run. Just take a look at the last few frantic minutes of this one. With 12 seconds left and the Rams clinging to a 62-59 lead, Smart was so animated during a timeout that he swooped down on his team at midcourt and started strategizing. The intense huddle was eventually brushed back to near the bench by the referees, but the Rams (29-6) came out of the timeout and buckled down defensively, hurrying Wichita State centre Garrett Stutzs errant 3-point attempt before the final buzzer. "Our guys did a good job executing our defensive plan," Smart said of those final seconds. "They didnt get a good look at a 3, and thats what won it for us." The Rams led by as many as 13 in the second half, but Wichita State (26-6) closed to 54-53 on Stutzs layup with 5:39 left. Troy Daniels hit a 3-pointer for the Rams, and Joe Ragland answered with his own for the Shockers. Toure Murry made a 3 that gave Wichita State the lead, but Burgess came back with his big shot to give the Rams a 60-59 edge. Darius Theus then tacked on a runner before Stutzs last-chance attempt was off. "I was kind of the last option on top, and VCU read the play well," Stutz said. "By the time I got the ball I knew there wasnt enough time to go for a two. Couldnt have been more than 2 or 3 seconds left." Said VCU guard Rob BBrandenberg: "Everybody was on the same page that last (defensive) play.ddddddddddddquot; Burgess finished with 16 points, and Theus and Daniels had 10 points apiece for the Rams, who edged Drexel 59-56 in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament final to make it to the NCAAs. Because of their unexpected run last season, the Rams were expected to give the Shockers trouble. Even President Barack Obama picked them to advance. Ragland finished with 15 points after getting off to a slow start. "They obviously pressured the ball and the first half we didnt handle it as well as we should have," Ragland said. "The second half we handled it pretty well and had a chance to win the game." Wichita State was ranked No. 18 in the final The Associated Press poll. The Shockers won the regular-season title in the Missouri Valley Conference, but lost to Illinois State in the semifinals of the conference tournament. It was the first NCAA tournament appearance for Wichita State since 2006, when it advanced to the regional semifinals. There were lots of missed shots on both sides early, but Rob Brandenberg hit a 3-pointer to put VCU in front 17-13 midway through the first half. Wichita State put together an 11-0 run to make it 24-21 with 5:27 left. Carl Hall capped the surge with a layup. Treveon Graham broke the VCU scoring drought with a jumper and Burgess added a 3-pointer, sparking a 13-1 run that lifted the Rams to a 34-25 lead at the break. Burgess scored 13 points during a dominating first half, except for an errant 3-pointer that fell far short of the basket. Virginia Commonwealth stretched the lead to 41-29 after Brandenbergs layup. His jumper a short time later gave the Rams a 46-33 lead, but Ben Smith had a layup before David Kyles scored five quick points to trim VCUs lead to 46-40. Ragland, who was quiet most of the first half, made a 3-pointer with 7:23 left and Stutz tapped in a shot to get Wichita State within one at 54-53. "They came at us with kind of a dose of our own medicine and pressed us," Smart said. "I thought it gave us troubles for part of the second half but we hung in there and made all the big plays in the end." ' ' '