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Rays homer their way to victory against Astros

Tampa Bay staves off elimination with a show of power.
Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Willy Adames (1) points to the crowd after hitting a solo homer in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Oct. 7
Updated Oct. 7

ST. PETERSBURG — Look here for live updates as we chronicle the action from Tropicana Field.

Top of the ninth: Colin Poche comes on to retire the side and the Rays get back into the series with a 10-3 victory. Charlie Morton gets the win with the help of homers from Kevin Kiermaier, Brandon Lowe, Ji-Man Choi and Willy Adames.

Bottom of the eighth: Willy Adames, facing new Houston pitcher Josh James, singles to center. Matt Duffy follows with a single to right, and now it’s men on first and second with no outs. Meadows follows and hits into a 4-6-3 double play. Adames advances to third. Pham comes up next and draws a walk against James. Ji-Man Choi follows and as fans again start chanting his name, he strikes out. Maybe y’all need to stop chanting his name. After eight innings, it’s Rays 10, Astros 3.

Top of the eighth: Drake comes out for the eighth and opens by facing Alex Bregman. Drake strikes out Bregman and he’s now retired all four hitters he’s faced. Yordan Alvarez comes up next and reaches first on a bounding grounder to short right. Yuli Gurriel grounds out to short and Alvarez advances to second on the play. Carlos Correa flies out to right to end the inning. After 7½, it’s Rays 10, Astros 3.

Bottom of the seventh: Rays fans open by chanting “Ji. Man. Choi.” as Choi comes to the plate. He strikes out against Wade Miley, who’s now pitched 2⅔ for the Astros. Avisail Garcia follows and reaches first as a throwing error by third baseman Alex Bregman pulls Yuli Gurriel off the bag. Brandon Lowe follows with a single to right and Garcia goes to third on the hit. That’ll be it for Miley as the Astros turn to reliever Joe Smith. Travis d’Arnaud drives a sac fly to right that brings home Garcia. Kiermaier pops out to second to end the inning. After seven innings, it’s Rays 10, Astros 3.


Hopefully, the Steelers don’t sue over the Rays’ yellow towels.

Top of the seventh: Oliver Drake becomes the Rays’ fourth pitcher of the day. He starts by facing George Springer, who is 0-for-3 on the day. And now, Springer is 0-for-4, striking out on three pitches. Altuve pops up to Adames and after four pitches, Drake has retired two batters. Michael Brantley grounds out to Matt Duffy and Drake retires the side on nine pitches. After 6½, it’s Rays 9, Astros 3.

Bottom of the sixth: Willy Adames leads off the inning by going yard to put the Rays up 9-3. The Rays now have four homers. Matt Duffy follows and lines out to center. Austin Meadows grounds out to second, and now it’s two outs. Tommy Pham grounds out to third to end the inning. After six innings, it’s Rays 9, Astros 3.

Top of the sixth: Morton exits after 91 pitches and Chaz Roe enters the game. Roe starts by giving up a single Alex Bregman. Yordan Alvarez doubles to right field, sending Bregman to third. Now Yuli Gurriel comes to the plate with men on second and third and no outs. Brendan McKay is now warming in the bullpen. Gurriel singles up the middle and Bregman and Alvarez scores. Houston cuts the margin to five runs. Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder comes to the mound to talk to the Roe. It’s a short conversation as Carlos Correa comes to the plate. Correa bloops out to second. Roe follows by striking out Robinson Chirinos. With two outs, Kevin Cash comes to the mound to bring in McKay, the two-way player who has been bidding to succeed as a pitcher and an outfielder. Aledmys Diaz pinch hits for Houston and flies out to right. After 5½, it’s Rays 8, Astros 3.


Bottom of the fifth: Brandon Lowe leads off against Wade Miley and Carlos Correa — diving to his left while in the shift behind second and bouncing a two-hopper to first — makes a remarkable play to throw out Lowe at first. d’Arnaud follows and grounds out to third. Kiermaier grounds out to end the inning. After five innings, it’s Rays 8, Astros 1.

If the Rays win today, Marc Topkin has starting times for Game 4.

Top of the fifth: Charlie Morton, in a bit of a surprise, starts the fifth with the Rays leading 5-1. He induces Springer into a groundout to shortstop for the first out. He’s now up to 85 pitches, but on the MLB broadcast, Joe Girardi endorses Kevin Cash’s decision to keep Morton in the game. Morton posts his eighth strike out of the game with a wicked curve ball against Altuve and it’s two down. Morton follows by striking out Michael Brantley. He’s now the pitcher of the record and has nine strikeouts. After 5½, it’s Rays 8, Astros 1.

It appears Kevin Kiermaier entered today’s game with a really good feeling, despite being dominated by the Astros in Games 1 and 2.

Bottom of the fourth: Brandon Lowe homers to the opposite field to start off the fourth, making it 5-1 for the Rays. Travis d’Arnaud follows and flies out to center. Kiermaier strikes out. Willy Adames draws a walk and that’s going to do it for Greinke. His line: 3⅔, five runs, five hits. He struck out five and walked one on 61 pitches. Hector Rondon enters the game for Houston to face Matt Duffy. Duffy singles and now the Astros bring in Wade Miley to face Austin Meadows with men on first and second. Meadows doubles, driving the pitch over the head of George Springer to score Adames and Duffy and now the Rays lead by six. Pham follows with a single to right and Meadows scores from second. Ji-Man Choi follows and draws a walk. The Rays have batted around and now Avisail Garcia comes back up with men on first and second. Garcia grounds out into a force out at second to end the inning. After four innings, it’s Rays 8, Astros 1.

And as Houston made a pitching change, Rays fans engaged in the wave — drawing mixed reactions on Twitter.

Zack Greinke picked a bad day to have an uncommon bad day.

Top of the fourth: Gurriel singles to left to lead off the inning for Houston. Carlos Correa follows and strikes out swinging on a curve ball. Chirinos comes up next and strikes out swinging. It’s two outs and Correa remains on second. Reddick flies out to center. After 3½, it’s Rays 4, Astros 1.

Bottom of the third: Meadows starts the third and strikes out. Pham follows and he too strikes out swinging. But Ji-Man Choi adds to the Rays lead with a solo shot to right field. Garcia grounds out. After three innings, it’s Rays 4, Astros 1.

Check out this early photo gallery from the Trop

Top of the third: Jose Altuve leads off the third with a double, driving a hanging curve ball to left. He steals third on a strike into the dirt against Michael Brantley. But a replay review sends Altuve back to second. Brantley swung and missed and then the ball hit his foot. Dead ball. Brantley grounds up the middle. Adames, in the shift behind second, almost tags out Altuve, but throws to first to get Brantley. One out. Alex Bregman follows and strikes out on a breaking ball. Morton ends the inning by striking out Yordan Alvarez. After 2½, it’s Rays 3, Astros 1.

Marc Topkin gives a snapshot of how the crowd reacted to Kiermaier’s homer.

Congress members Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist threw out the ceremonial first pitches. Castor reportedly did better than Crist.

Bottom of the second: Ji-Man Choi leads off and grounds out to second. Avisail Garcia follows and gets the Rays first hit, a line drive to single. Brandon Lowe grounds to second. Garcia advances to second on fielders choice. Grienke follows and hits Travis d’Arnaud. Now it’s men on first and second and two outs. The Outlaw does it. Kevin Keirmaier hits a three-run homer off Greinke. Willy Adames follows with a double. This might be a good time to remind fans Greinke does not like pitching at the Trop. Also, he hasn’t pitched in 11 days. Matt Duffy, pinch hitting for Yandy Diaz, taps a grounder to Greinke to end the inning. After two, it’s Rays 3, Astros 1.

Former Rays pitcher Seth McClung among those tweeting disappointment that the Trop isn’t sold out.

Top of the second: Morton opens the inning by striking out Carlos Correa on a 79 mph curve. Former Rays catcher Robinson Chirinos follows by drawing a walk. The pitch count for Morton is now up to 44. Morton strikes out Josh Reddick on a called third strike. Springer comes up and grounds out to second to end the inning. After 1½, it’s Astros 1, Rays 0.

The Trop opened the upper deck for an overflow crowd. Some are happy to be back in the “300s.”

Bottom of the first: Zack Greinke starts the game for Houston and Rays leadoff hitter Yandy Diaz strikes out looking on a slider. Austin Meadows follows and strikes out looking on a fastball. Tommy Pham grounds out to third. After the first, it’s Houston 1, Tampa Bay 0.

Top of the first: Starter Charlie Morton retires lead-off hitter George Springer on a grounder. But on a 3-2 count, Jose Altuve hits a four-seam fastball to give the Astros an early 1-0 lead. The homer came after Morton missed a borderline that could have been the third strike. I guess Altuve took his 5-Hour Energy. Morton recovers to strike out Michael Brantley. He walks Alex Bregman, and Yordan Alvarez reaches first on a throwing error by Yandy Diaz. Alvarez goes to second. Bregman goes to third. Morton bails out of the jam with a fly out to Yuli Gurriel. After a ½ inning, it’s Astros 1, Rays 0.


1:01 p.m.: Bob Costas begins the game with commentary about the attendance. And so it begins.

12:53 p.m.: If you’re watching the game from home and hoping to capture some of the ambiance of a record crowd at Tropicana Field, you’re out of luck. MLB Network instead chose to grace us with commentary from Harold Reynolds and Al Leiter.


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