Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Souza Jr. powers Rays win with pair of homers

ST. PETERSBURG — Steven Souza Jr.'s first home run Wednesday barely made it, eluding the glove of Toronto centerfielder Kevin Pillar and bouncing off the top of the wall then over.

There was no doubt about his second, a three-run eighth-inning blast onto the Ducky's deck left of center. Nor what it meant, carrying the Rays to a 5-3 victory and a split of the season-opening series.

Wednesday didn't have the pomp and circumstance of Sunday's opener, nor the replay controversy of the previous two nights. A crowd of 14,257 attended the matinee at the Trop.

Matt Moore came into the start loaded with confidence based on an impressive spring training following his strong September after coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery.

Moore started well, retiring six of the first seven, four on strikeouts. But he ran into trouble in a 24-pitch third, giving up an infield single to No. 8 hitter Ezequiel Carrera and hitting No. 9 Darwin Barney. That hurt an out later when Josh Donaldson launched a three-run homer to left.

Moore ended up working only five innings, allowing the three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out six but throwing 102 pitches (61 for strikes).

The Rays got a run in the fourth but had the potential for more as they rapped four singles. They got another in the sixth on Souza's second homer of the season.

They rallied again in the eighth.

Evan Longoria led off with a single and was running with one out when Desmond Jennings slapped a ball to rightfield. That put runners on the corners and brought Arnold Leon to the mound.

Souza welcomed him with the three-run blast, logging his first multihomer game in the majors and matching his career high with four hits.

Erasmo Ramirez, the No. 5 started being asked to help out a bullpen missing closer Brad Boxberger, worked the final two innings for the win.

The Rays are off Thursday then make a quick weekend trip to chilly Baltimore.

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