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Rays finally get some runs, and a win, too

The scoring drought ends with a four-run third inning, but it takes a Harold Ramirez sac fly in the 9th to secure the victory.
The Rays' Ji-Man Choi, right, is greeted by Yandy Diaz (2) after hitting a two-run home run against Orioles starting pitcher Kyle Bradish during the fifth inning Saturday in Baltimore.
The Rays' Ji-Man Choi, right, is greeted by Yandy Diaz (2) after hitting a two-run home run against Orioles starting pitcher Kyle Bradish during the fifth inning Saturday in Baltimore. [ TERRANCE WILLIAMS | AP ]
Published Jun. 19|Updated Jun. 19

BALTIMORE — The challenge for the Rays has been to score, and that they did that Saturday, snapping a 15-inning drought that started Thursday.

They got four runs in the third inning alone against the Orioles, matching their total from the previous four games combined, and had six by the fifth inning.

But that still wasn’t enough. They lost the lead in the sixth, the result of another error, then had to rally in the ninth to win 7-6, a welcome result after losing four straight and six of seven.

“It did feel good,” manager Kevin Cash said. “It felt good to win, and felt good to score some runs.”

The lack of offense had been even more glaring because of how well the Rays had been pitching in matching a season high by losing four straight (a three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium and Friday’s series opener with the Orioles); the Rays allowed only nine runs (and four that were earned) during the skid.

The hitters were pressing, trying to do too much and making costly mistakes, and getting frustrated in doing so.

“All the players were trying their best, but we were just unlucky,” said Ji-Man Choi, via team interpreter Daniel Park. “The pitchers had been producing, and (Saturday) it was the other way around; the hitters were producing.

“A game like (Saturday) was much needed. Everyone was just trying to win.”

The Rays' Francisco Mejia, left, hits a double against Orioles starting pitcher Kyle Bradish during the fourth inning.
The Rays' Francisco Mejia, left, hits a double against Orioles starting pitcher Kyle Bradish during the fourth inning. [ TERRANCE WILLIAMS | AP ]

Something, it seemed, had to give.

“It was great to see,” said centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier. “To reiterate, we’ve been working. Baseball works in very mysterious ways, and (it) just seems like everything that could go wrong this last week has for us.”

It looked like that might be the case again Saturday as the Rays let a 6-2 lead get away. One run scored when the Rays got burned playing the infield in up by four. Then they allowed two more on a slow roller through an open right side in a shift.

That got the Orioles to within 6-5 in the fifth, and they tied it in the sixth — with the Rays’ help.

After Ryan Thompson, pitching in relief, got two outs, the Rays made another of their recently characteristic defensive mistakes, shortstop Taylor Walls whiffing on a somewhat routine grounder.

Then Thompson, who gave up a lead to the Yankees in his last outing, faltered again, allowing a walk and an RBI single to Anthony Santander.

“Very well could have just thrown in the towel and just said, ‘OK, well, this is just another cruddy game,’ I guess you could say,” Kiermaier said. “But we didn’t panic or anything. We put ourselves in that situation, and we had to claw out of it and try to score more runs there late. We were able to squeak one more run in the ninth to be the difference of the game.”

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The Rays' Harold Ramirez (43) is greeted by teammates after hitting a sacrifice fly against Orioles relief pitcher Dillon Tate to score Yandy Diaz during the ninth inning.
The Rays' Harold Ramirez (43) is greeted by teammates after hitting a sacrifice fly against Orioles relief pitcher Dillon Tate to score Yandy Diaz during the ninth inning. [ TERRANCE WILLIAMS | AP ]

The final run was a group effort. Yandy Diaz drew a one-out walk. Choi singled. Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch to load the bases. And Harold Ramirez delivered a sacrifice fly.

“A beautiful thing to see,” Kiermaier said.

They built their lead in similar fashion. With the Rays down 2-0, Francisco Mejia got the first of his four hits to start the third-inning rally, and Kiermaier (bloop single), Manuel Margot (two-run double) and Diaz (single) followed. With two outs, Ramirez doubled to right to score two more.

The Rays extended the lead to 6-2 in the fifth when Diaz led off with a double and Choi followed with a homer, his sixth.

“Mejia big day, Yandy big day, Ramirez big day and Choi, they all contributed,” Cash said. “We needed every one of them.”

On a day when starter Jeffrey Springs looked, as Cash said, “a little more human” in lasting only 4⅓ innings, and relievers Matt Wisler and Thompson had to battle, Colin Poche said that it was important to see the hitters come through as the Rays improved to 36-29.

“It felt great,” said Poche, who worked a 1-2-3 ninth. “They picked us up big time (Saturday), and really appreciative of that. Hopefully, going forward, we can kind of click on both sides of the ball and maybe go on a little run here.”

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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