ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays are breaking out of their offensive slump at the right time thanks to the recent return of Kevin Kiermaier.
Kiermaier had two hits, including a two-run triple in the second inning, to help the Rays earn a 6-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
Wilson Ramos had three hits while Lucas Duda and Corey Dickerson had solo home runs as the Rays (62-65) won their second consecutive game. Toronto (59-66) lost its fourth straight.
Chris Archer (9-7) posted the win, giving up three runs (one earned) and striking out 10 in six innings. He yielded four hits and one walk.
“It was really nice for our offense to put up a bunch of runs early,” Archer said. “I think that kind of relaxed the rest of the team.”
The Blue Jays rallied against the Rays’ bullpen but came up short.
Josh Donaldson hit a solo home run in the eighth off Rays reliever Tommy Hunter to make the score 6-4.
Kendrys Morales singled and Steve Pearce doubled off Alex Colome to give Toronto runners at second and third with no outs in the ninth. Miguel Montero hit a sacrifice fly to score Morales but Darwin Barney grounded to first and Ryan Goins lined out to right to leave Pearce stranded at third.
Colome earned his MLB-leading 37th save.
“I was just trying to keep the man on third,” Colome said. “Just trying to get a pop up or a ground ball and I did.”
Toronto got on the board in the first inning when Norichika Aoki hit the second pitch of the game over the right field wall for his fourth home run of the season and a 1-0 lead.
Tampa Bay tied the score at 1 in the bottom half of the inning on a home run by Lucas Duda — his 23rd of the season and sixth with the Rays.
Tampa Bay touched up Blue Jays starter Chris Rowley (1-1) for three runs in the second inning. Corey Dickerson hit his 23rd home run — a solo shot to deep right center.
Ramos followed with a single and Brad Miller drew a walk to put runners on first and second before Kiermaier delivered a triple to right-center to make it 4-1.
Rowley struggled with his control and left the game after giving up four runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out one.
“That was a tough one,” Rowley said. “I was a little bit up in the zone. The Rays did a good job of capitalizing on the pitches that I missed. I was working the corners a little bit and a got behind.”
The Blue Jays battled back in the fifth against Archer.
Montero reached base on a dropped third strike, and Ezequiel Carerra followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Ryan Goins singled to score Montero, and Carerra scored on a sacrifice fly by Aoki to cut the deficit to 4-3.
“The guys battled back,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “We had a chance to tie it there in the ninth.”
Ramos pushed the Rays’ lead to 5-3 when his infield single scored Evan Longoria from third base in the fifth. Longoria also had an RBI triple in the sixth.
“It was nice to get some early runs out the gate,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “They hit the home run to lead off the game and we answered right back. We had some better at-bats than we had against Rowley up in Toronto.”
NOTES: Blue Jays CF Kevin Pillar was ejected in the third inning by plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Pillar was going back to the dugout after grounding out to first and said something to Fairchild. He was ejected immediately and replaced by Ezequiel Carrera. “I didn’t get an explanation, he just threw me out,” Pillar said. “As I ran by home plate I offered my opinion on what I felt the first pitch of the at bat was. All I said was the first pitch was terrible. I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t use any profanity.”. ... Rays RHP Matt Andriese (hip) will make a rehab start for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday. ... Blue Jays C Russell Martin (left oblique) has missed nine games and is not close to returning, according to manager John Gibbons. ... Blue Jays RHP Nick Tepesch is off on a three-day paternity leave. He is expected to return Friday.