The Rays pounded 17 hits in a 10-2 blowout of the Cardinals at TVA Credit Union Ball Park.
Johnson City was playing without first-round draft pick Nolan Gorman, who was called up Wednesday to Class A Peoria. Gorman was the team's leading hitter with a .345 batting average and 11 home runs through 37 games.
Gorman was named Appalachian League Player of the Week for July 30-Aug. 5 after going 12-for-23 in five games with three doubles, three home runs, eight RBIs and seven runs scored. He had a 10-game hitting streak going — including two hits in Johnson City's 11-5 win at Bristol on Tuesday night — when he was called up.
However, there was no Gorman to provide offense as Johnson City fell to 21-25, six games behind Elizabethton in the West Division standings. Princeton, which an Appalachian League-best record of 29-17, opened up a one-game lead over rival Bluefield.
CARDINALS STRIKE FIRST
Jonatan Machado led off the top of third with a double and Leandro Cedeno lined an RBI double to center field to score him in the third inning. Brandon Riley followed up with a RBI single to left field to plate Cedeno for a 2-0 Cardinals lead.
The lead, though, was short-lived.
RAYS RESPOND IN A BIG WAY
Princeton scored four runs in the top of the fourth and three more in the top of the fifth for a 7-2 lead. The Rays produced 10 runs over a four-inning span to easily win.
Johnson City starter Cole Aker (1-1) was pulled after 4 1/3 innings. He threw seven strikeouts, but gave up eight hits and six runs (five earned) in a loss.
Relievers Jacob Sylvester and Oneiver Diaz also struggled. Sylvester gave up two hits, two walks and two runs over 1 2/3 innings, while Diaz gave up five hits and two runs over two innings. Closer Junior Gonzalez yielded two hits in the ninth inning.
Roberto Alvarez was 3-for-4 with three RBIs to lead Princeton offensively. Wander Franco also finished with three hits.
Miguel Lara (3-3) earned the win, giving up five hits and two runs over five innings.
JOHNSON CITY OFFENSE
Cedeno led the Cardinals by going 2-for-2 with the double and RBI. Machado went 2-for-5 in the lead-off spot.
Dariel Gomez, Moises Castillo and Riley had the other hits for the Cardinals.
The teams play the second game of a three-game series on Friday at 7 p.m.