Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

B.J. Upton's milestone 100th homer lifts Tampa Bay Rays over Baltimore Orioles 2-0

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton said both he and his younger brother, Justin, were aware each was one homer away from reaching 100 in their big-league careers.

After all, the two hit No. 99 the same day, back on July 20.

So it was only fitting that the Upton brothers reached the century mark within an hour of each other Friday night. B.J.'s blast, a towering solo shot to center in the fourth inning, helped lift the Rays to a 2-0 victory over the Orioles in front of 18,410 at Tropicana Field.

But Justin, 24, the Diamondbacks rightfielder, one-upped his big brother, hitting No. 100 nearly an hour earlier in Philadelphia. It was the 13th time the two have homered on the same day.

"I was just going to text him, say he got his before mine," B.J. said, smiling. "It's all good. It's cool to do that on the same day."

The elder Upton, 27, said he was honored to hear his homer put him in elite company, one of eight players in history to reach 100 home runs and 200 steals before his 28th birthday, joining former stars such as Rickey Henderson and the father-son duo of Bobby and Barry Bonds. The Uptons also became one of six sets of brothers that each hit 100 homers, including Joe and Vince DiMaggio, and Sandy and Roberto Alomar.

"I definitely wanted to beat him to it," Justin said in Philadelphia. "It really felt good. I'm happy for him. It's a big night for the family."

But, more important to B.J. Upton, the homer also helped the Rays (56-50) tally their first three-game winning streak since taking four straight June 7-10. The victory moved Tampa Bay into sole possession of second place in the AL East and within a half game of the wild card, pending the A's late game.

"We've been looking for that big streak," Upton said. "And hopefully this is the start of it."

The Rays got a solid but short start from rookie left-hander Matt Moore. He struggled with his command but battled his way through 5⅓ innings, walking three and throwing 108 pitches to continue his resurgence since June 1 (7-2 with a 3.06 ERA).

"I felt like I had a runner on every inning," Moore said. "There wasn't really a rhythm to the game, just plugging away to get them out one at a time."

Moore got a big out in the first inning after loading the bases, striking out Mark Reynolds to thwart the threat. He was helped by good defense, including third baseman Ryan Roberts, in his Rays home debut, making a diving stop to his left in the fourth.

And the Rays bullpen took it from there, continuing their stellar work. With one out and a runner on second in the sixth, left-hander Jake McGee relieved and got Lew Ford to fly out before striking out Omar Quintanilla.

Desmond Jennings boosted the lead to 2-0 with a homer in the sixth.

Relievers Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth and closer Fernando Rodney, who picked up his major-league-leading 32nd save, then shut the door, giving the Rays four shutouts in their past six games for the first time in franchise history.

Said Upton: "It's never comfortable, but I think with our bullpen, it's about as comfortable as it gets."

Upton said his parents, fixtures at both he and his brother's games, were in Las Vegas on Friday night. But he expected the news traveled fast.

"Mom and dad have to be really proud," manager Joe Maddon said. "That's an incredible feat."

 
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