ST. PETERSBURG — 2B Logan Forsythe returned to the lineup and made a big difference in Sunday's 8-4 win against the Rangers, and CF Kevin Kiermaier returned and indirectly made an impact.
Forsythe, serving as the DH after missing four games with back spasms, hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning that gave the Rays a 6-2 lead.
"The back did well," he said.
He has homered in three straight games, making him the second leadoff hitter in franchise history to do so. The first was Gerald Williams, who did it July 9-14, 2000 (around the All-Star Game). Williams set the franchise record for home runs out of the leadoff spot that season with 21. Forsythe has 16.
Forsythe said he hopes to return to second base tonight against the Red Sox.
Kiermaier, who hadn't played since the second inning of Friday's game because of tightness in his left hip, entered in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement in center. That moved Mikie Mahtook over to leftfield in place of Corey Dickerson.
The moved paid off when Mahtook ran down Adrian Beltre's line drive with Ian Desmond on second base and one out in the eighth. It was a two-run game at the time.
Manager Kevin Cash said he was hoping to give Kiermaier another day off but felt his defense was needed. Cash didn't say if Kiermaier would start tonight.
SMYLY WINS AGAIN: LHP Drew Smyly's streak of quality starts ended at five when the bullpen allowed an inherited run to score in the seventh inning. But he continued his winning ways, improving to 4-0 with a 2.79 ERA in his past six starts.
"I'm trying to go out there and compete and stay out of the heart of the plate," he said. "Feels like I've been good for a home run every game, but besides that I feel like I've been keeping runners off base."
Smyly allowed two home runs, giving him a career-high 26. Of the 108 runs he has allowed this season, 59 have scored on home runs.
BLAKE MEET PAPI: LHP Blake Snell, who has tied LHP Matt Moore's team rookie record with seven consecutive starts of two or fewer earned runs allowed, has a chance to set the record tonight against the high-powered Red Sox.
"I'm excited," Snell said. "They're a good team, a really good team."
While tonight is a matchup of the Rays left-hander of the past (David Price) against the Rays lefty of the future (Snell), Snell said he's more eager to face DH David Ortiz.
"I'm looking forward to that," Snell said. "He's a good hitter. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what he can do. But it's going to be a good challenge. The whole lineup is really, really stacked."
Ortiz is batting .324 with four home runs and 24 RBIs this season against left-handed pitchers. Lefties are batting .232 against Snell.
LUKE MEETS LUKE: Luke Nielsen, 12, of Wesley Chapel came up with the ball that C Luke Maile hit Saturday for his first big-league home run. Luke, his father, Eric, and his brother Caleb, 11, were attending their first Rays game. The family just moved to Tampa Bay from Oklahoma City.
Maile exchanged a bat for the ball.
NOTEWORTHY: RF Steven Souza Jr. has two home runs in his past nine at-bats. He had one in his previous 158. … Mahtook extended his slump to 0-for-29, though he did walk in his last plate appearance. … Dickerson is batting .350/.435/.800 with three doubles, two home runs and five RBIs during his six-game hitting streak.