Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays beat Astros, take three of four

ST. PETERSBURG — Even through a dismal stretch that dropped them to the bottom of the standings, the Rays remained insistent that their ugly numbers would eventually balance out.

With Sunday's 5-2 victory over Houston, those numbers look like they're starting to add up to wins.

Not only did the Rays (31-46) earn their seventh victory in their past 11 games and take the series over the Astros; they did so despite giving up a home run on the game's first pitch and losing two replay challenges — including Desmond Jennings' failed attempt at stealing home — while starting to resemble a team that began the year with World Series aspirations.

"I don't want to speak too soon …" Evan Longoria said. "Whatever it is, we've got to try to stick to that."

The win in front of a Tropicana Field crowd of 13,841 marked the second straight game in which good pitching, hitting and defense finally clicked, despite having several opportunities to unravel.

Houston's Dexter Fowler took the game's first pitch 386 feet to leftfield for his second leadoff home run in eight days against the Rays. Then Longoria missed a tag on Jonathan Villar's replay-aided steal of third, and MLB hits leader Jose Altuve's RBI single gave Houston a 2-1 lead in the third.

But the Rays' pitchers found success after that. Against his former team, starter Erik Bedard had six of his eight strikeouts after that steal, thanks in part to rediscovering the curveball manager Joe Maddon adores.

"Last game, I kind of forgot about it," Bedard said.

The Rays' defense tightened up, too, turning just its second double play in the past 18 games, and the offense built on Saturday night's eight-run performance.

Jennings tried to add to the offense when he tried to steal home off lefty Dallas Keuchel but was called out — with Longoria at the plate.

"I saw an opportunity to get a run," Jennings said, "and I went for it."

The runs finally came in the sixth inning, when Yunel Escobar knocked a go-ahead, two-run single down the first-base line. Sean Rodriguez also drove in two runs for a team that has started to get timely hitting.

After going 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position over the previous three games, the Rays have nine hits in those situations in the past two days.

"I'd like to see it become a trend," Maddon said.

So would the rest of the Rays, who remain at the bottom of the league and need to go 19-4 to reach Maddon's short-term goal of climbing to .500 by the 100th game. But three wins over Houston in four games is a start.

"We won," said Longoria, who had an RBI and matched a season high with three hits. "That's the bottom line, and that's really at this point all I care about."

Times staff writer Matt Baker can be reached at or on Twitter @MBakerTBTimes.

Rays beat Astros, take three of four 06/22/14 [Last modified: Sunday, June 22, 2014 9:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Dugout bench becomes bed for Logan Morrison at end of long night

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — The Rays found creative ways to get through the physical and mental fatigue of the 6½ hours they spent playing — and ultimately winning — Sunday's game in Minnesota.

    Corey Dickerson drapes towels over an exhausted Logan Morrison in the dugout during the 15th inning of Sunday’s marathon victory.
  2. Rays at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. Tuesday, Arlington, Texas

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Rangers

    8:05, Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 2: Nick Martinez #22 of the Texas Rangers poses for a portrait during photo day at Surprise Stadium on March 2, 2015 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
  3. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  4. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)
  5. For starters: Rays at Rangers, with Erasmo on the mound again


    UPDATE, 6:36: Cash said the Rays will "be smart" in deciding whether to use Farquhar, Hunter and Colome tonight, so it could be a closing combo of the Blaze Brothers, Alvarado and Stanek, with Whitley another option. ... Cash said De Leon provides depth for tonight, and mentioned that some of the other relief …