ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - There's little that surprises the Tampa Bay Rays about Evan Longoria.

"He's always got this way about him," manager Joe Maddon said of the rookie. "He's not going to be overwhelmed by the situation."

The skipper just as well could have been talking about his entire team.

Longoria and the rest of AL East champions hardly resembled postseason novices Thursday in beating the Chicago White Sox 6-4 in Game 1 of the best-of-five playoff series that continues Friday at Tropicana Field.

The All-Star third baseman homered twice off Javier Vazquez, and the young Rays showed no signs of October jitters in winning the first playoff game in franchise history behind the pitching of James Shields and an improved bullpen.

It's the same formula they followed in compiling the best home record (57-24) in baseball and winning 97 games overall to become the second AL team to make the playoffs a year after finishing with the worst record in the majors.

"I really tried to do everything the same as I do every day," Longoria said. "You could sense that there was a different feeling about the game - you know, the energy level in the ballpark - but other than that, I was able to settle in pretty quickly."

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.

He started the year in the minors and still hit 27 homers in the big leagues despite missing a month with a broken right wrist.

"Honestly, I wasn't surprised. ... He likes these moments in a non-cocky way. He's just very confident," Maddon said. "With that, I really did expect him to have a very good postseason."

Longoria insisted he wasn't as calm as he appeared.

"I think if you're not nervous in this situation, you're really not soaking in the moment," he said. "I was anxious to get up there and ... he made a couple mistakes, and that's what you're supposed to do as a good hitter, hit the mistakes."

Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir (12-8) faces Mark Buehrle (15-12) in Game 2.


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