EditorsNote: 7th graf, take the word ‘lone’; shorten headline
Tommy Pham and Avisail Garcia each belted a two-run homer as the host Tampa Bay Rays recorded a 9-6 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Ji-Man Choi homered to lead off the second inning and Travis d’Arnaud followed suit in the seventh for the Rays (79-58), who reside a percentage point behind Oakland (78-57) for the second wild card in the American League.
Carlos Santana belted a two-run homer in the first inning and Francisco Lindor did the same in the eighth for the Indians, who have lost five of the six meetings in the season series with Tampa Bay.
The Rays erased a 2-1 deficit in the third inning as Eric Sogard singled before Pham deposited a 3-1 fastball from rookie Zach Plesac (7-5) over the wall in left field. The homer was Pham’s 20th of the season and third versus Cleveland.
Tampa Bay added to its advantage in the sixth, as d’Arnaud walked to both lead off the inning and send Plesac to the showers. Tyler Clippard replaced Plesac and saw Garcia send his 0-1 changeup well over the wall in left field before Sogard greeted Hunter Wood four batters later with an RBI single to left.
The Rays appeared to put it out of reach in the seventh inning as d’Arnaud homered before the next three batters loaded the bases. Matt Duffy’s ground out plated one run, and first baseman Santana’s throwing error allowed another to score to give Tampa Bay a 9-2 lead.
Lindor’s two-run homer in the eighth inning and Greg Allen’s two-run double in the ninth trimmed the deficit, but Emilio Pagan retired the two batters he faced for his 16th save.
Jalen Beeks (6-3) scattered four hits over three scoreless innings to pick up the win.
Cleveland opened the scoring after rookie Oscar Mercado ripped a one-out single to left field before Santana deposited a 3-2 sinker from opener Diego Castillo over the wall in right field. Santana’s homer was his team-leading 31st of the season, which is three shy of his career high set in 2016.
Choi answered after sending a 2-1 fastball from Plesac over the wall in right field to lead off the second inning.
—Field Level Media