ST. PETERSBURG — It began with the unusually early start time and only got weirder from there.
The Rays overcame an early slugfest, some unusual mistakes, two errors and a bullpen that was thrown into emergency mode to edge the Dodgers 11-10 Sunday in front of 21,043 at Tropicana Field.
“That was a crazy game,” said Rays reliever Jason Adam, who had to get a six-out save when Pete Fairbanks was hurt. “I mean, you’ve got two high-powered offenses, and (starter Josh Fleming) made a lot of good pitches (Sunday) if you go back and look, and they just found some holes. They were aggressive early. That’s baseball. And he battled for us, which was huge. We needed that out of him.
“So yeah, to come away with a win in a well-fought game like that is big for everybody.”
The game, which started at 11:35 a.m. due to the Peacock TV broadcast, started as a slugfest but eventually was decided on Luke Raley’s hustle. The Rays slugger, built more like a lumberjack than a sprinter, beat out a single to shallow rightfield to lead off the seventh and then scored on Wander Franco’s groundout.
“I am always gonna bust my butt down the line,” said Raley, who also drove in two runs and made two huge defensive plays in leftfield. “This time we got lucky the pitcher didn’t get over there in time, and it ended up being the winning run.”
Jalen Beeks and Adam combined to throw three scoreless innings at the end to give the Rays the series-clinching win. Adam earned his first career six-out save after Fairbanks limped from the bullpen to the dugout with a trainer.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said after the game that Fairbanks’ hip locked up, and he will be checked out.
“Jason Adam, that was a pretty gutsy performance,” Cash said. “That might have been his best stuff of the year, too. When you do that in the first inning, you don’t want to add on to it because he’s in such a good rhythm. But give him a lot of credit. I’ve never been in the position to where you say, ‘Hey, you’re down,’ but then you’ve got to go back out.’ He handled it about as well as you could ask.”
Isaac Paredes went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs, driving in a run in each of his first three plate appearances. Yandy Diaz went 2-for-5 with an RBI to extend his on-base streak to a career-high-tying 22 straight games. Franco drove in two runs, and Josh Lowe had two hits and two stolen bases. Jose Siri tripled but also committed his first error of the season.
The Rays put up six runs in the bottom of the second inning, which began with a Siri line drive that bounced over the head of Dodgers’ leftfielder Chris Taylor for a triple and featured doubles from Paredes and Raley, and five straight hits off Los Angeles starter Gavin Stone.
The Dodgers answered in the top of the third, which began with Freddie Freeman’s fly ball dropping out of Siri’s glove. LA scored four runs in that inning, two unearned after Brandon Lowe sailed a short throw over the head of Franco at second base. Diaz had an RBI single in the third. Paredes hit his eighth home run of the season in the fourth, and Josh Lowe (who stole second and third) scored on Raley’s groundout.
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The Rays scored in each of the first four innings, building a 10-7 lead.
The Dodgers rallied to tie the game at 10 in the sixth with back-to-back home runs from J.D. Martinez and Taylor off Fleming, who was making just his third traditional start this season.
Fleming, who normally follows an opener, allowed a career-high five home runs and matched a career high with 10 runs allowed, eight earned, on 12 hits and two walks over six innings.
“Look, nothing went his way, but he continued to compete,” Cash said. “He just left some balls in the zone to a really good-hitting team, and they capitalized.”
In a sport that is based on routine and repetition, the abnormally early start time seemed to account for some of the wildness. The Rays certainly would prefer not to have to do it again any time soon.
“It’s just early,” Raley said. “I mean, we were so accustomed to waking up a little bit later, and it’s tough to get the body going that early.”
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