Rangers score 4 early, including Lowe HR, hold off Rays 4-3

Texas Rangers v Miami Marlins - Game One
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Nathaniel Lowe hit his 25th home run in a four-run inning Friday night and the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3.

Lowe’s two-run homer was the fourth of five straight hits in the third inning off Corey Kluber, who gave up seven straight hits in the first inning in New York nearly a week earlier. It followed a two-run double by Corey Seager.

“The pitch to Seager wasn’t a bad pitch, tip your hat to him. I didn’t execute the pitch to Lowe and he did what he’s supposed to do,” said Kluber, who has allowed eight hits in consecutive starts for the first time in more than four years. “Two pitches, or I guess one pitch that I was really disappointed with … That’s how it goes.”

Rangers starter Martin Perez (12-6) gave up three runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. Three of those were by Rays catcher Francisco Mejia, driving in runs with a single in the second and a double in the sixth.

Perez pitched at least five innings for the 27th start in a row, and gave up two runs in the second.

“They’re trying to hit balls in the alley and they hit some ground balls, got on base,” Perez said. “That’s what happens when you face a good team, but I think I made my pitches and we won.”

The Rangers are 19-10 in Perez’s starts this season, and 43-71 in starts by other pitchers.

Jose Leclerq pitched the ninth for his sixth save in seven attempts, retiring Harold Ramirez on a bases-loaded grounder to end the game.

The Rays, who opened a 10-game homestand, left at least one runner on base in every inning except the eighth, losing for the sixth time in eight games. They fell 1 1/2 games behind Toronto in the race for the top AL wild card spot while holding onto a 4 1/2-game lead over Baltimore in competition for the third wild card.

“We started off this month well. The last couple of weeks we’ve struggled a bit, but we’ve got to keep pushing forward,” Mejia acknowledged through a translator.

Kluber (10-9) gave up four runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out six.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: LHP Brooks Raley was reinstated from the restricted list, and RHP Kevin Herget was optioned to Triple-A Durham. The unvaccinated Raley was unavailable for both of the Rays’ series in Toronto this summer.

LOOKING UP

The Rays, who traded Lowe in December of 2020, are not surprised by his 25 home runs. They are impressed to see him in contention for the AL batting title.

“We were confident he had that light-tower power,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said, “but the way he’s shown adjustability – for him to be hitting above .300 – is pretty remarkable.”

Lowe’s .309 batting average stood sixth among AL hitters before Friday’s game, 11 points behind league leader Luiz Arraez of Minnesota.

UP NEXT

LHP Ryan Yarbrough (1-8, 4.38 ERA) will make his 10th start of the season for the Rays on Saturday night after pitching five scoreless innings of relief Sunday against the New York Yankees. RHP Jon Gray (7-6, 3.79) will be making his second start for the Rangers since his return from the injured list with a left oblique strain.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.