Yandy Diaz’s two-run homer capped Tampa Bay’s four-run rally in the seventh inning Sunday as the Rays opened the second half with a series-clinching 7-5 victory over the host Atlanta Braves.
With the visitors trailing 4-3, Kevin Kiermaier’s RBI double into the right-field corner sent home Joey Wendle after his single. Kiermaier stole third and came home on the second of Austin Meadows’ two sacrifice flies.
Diaz slugged his fifth homer following pinch hitter Francisco Mejia’s double for the 7-4 advantage that the club held behind Collin McHugh (two innings) and Pete Fairbanks, who recorded his fifth save in six chances with a scoreless ninth.
Jeffrey Springs (5-1) pitched 2/3 of an inning in the sixth and allowed one hit.
Brandon Lowe went 2-for-4 and scored, and rookie Wander Franco homered for the Rays, who are 8-2 in their past 10 games.
New catcher Stephen Vogt finished 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI in his Braves debut. Guillermo Heredia (two doubles), Joc Pederson (two RBIs), Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley each produced two hits.
Reliever A.J. Minter (1-4) allowed two runs on two hits in the seventh.
Atlanta scored in the first inning with two outs when Albies drilled a fastball from Rays starter Rich Hill to center to score Freddie Freeman from first.
In the fourth, after Vogt’s first Atlanta hit put runners on first and second with one out, Heredia slashed his second double deep to right to score Orlando Arcia. Starting pitcher Drew Smyly’s infield single loaded the bases, and Pederson’s groundout made it 3-0.
Kiermaier kept it that way with a leaping catch at the top of the wall on Dansby Swanson’s drive to end the frame — preventing three more tallies.
In the fifth, Lowe broke up Smyly’s early no-hit bid when he led off with a check-swing, infield single on the third-base side away from the shift on a soft 0-2 curve.
He later scored on Smyly’s wild pitch, and pinch hitter Meadows made it 3-2 with his first sacrifice fly.
Franco knotted the game with a shot to center off a 1-1 hanging curve from Smyly in the sixth, but Pederson inside-outed an RBI double just inside third base to score Vogt and retake the lead.
With the Braves later down by three runs, Vogt singled in an unearned run off McHugh with two outs in the seventh for the final margin.
–Field Level Media
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