Harold Ramirez, Rays beat Pirates 4-1 in matchup of top two teams

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Harold Ramírez homered and drove in two runs to lead the Tampa Bay Rays over the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 in a matchup of teams with the top two records in the major leagues.

Ramírez drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single in the fourth and boosted the lead to 4-1 with a solo homer in the sixth against Roansy Contreras (3-2). The Rays, who drew just 10,325 to Tropicana Field, lead the big leagues with 62 home runs and have outscored opponents 199-93.

“Don’t matter who we play, we just have to play good baseball,” Ramírez said. “We’re just here to win.”

Tampa Bay is the 15th team since 1901 to win at least 24 of its first 30 games and the first since the 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs started 24-6.

Pittsburgh (20-10), in first place at the end of April for the first time since 1992, lost back-to-back games for the first time since the last two games of opening series at Cincinnati. The Pirates lost for the third time in the last 13 games.

Pittsburgh went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position, while Tampa Bay was 2 of 11 chances.

“There’s not a lot of room for error,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I think we left 11 runners on base. We didn’t execute with runners in scoring position, and you just can’t do that.”

Tampa Bay left-hander Josh Fleming left in the fifth after taking Ke’Bryan Hayes’ hard-hit single off his left foot. The Rays said initial images didn’t show a fracture.

“Fingers crossed he’s OK, Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Seven Rays combined on a five-hitter, Tampa’s 13th game allowing five hits or fewer.

Colin Poche (3-0) replaced Fleming in the fifth and gave up a double to Bryan Reynolds and Carlos Santana‘s tying sacrifice fly. Hayes called safe on a close play at the plate that stood after a video review.

Jason Adam worked the ninth for his first save this season.

Manuel Margot opened a two-run fifth that with Contreras’ fourth walk and took second when Jose Siri‘s popup dropped in shallow center.

Wander Franco, who had hit into double plays in his first two at-bats, hit a go-ahead single and Siri stole home for a 3-1 lead as part of a double steal with Franco.

Contreras allowed four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Pittsburgh had runners on the corners in the sixth when the Pirates felt Ryan Thompson balked, but there was no call.

“The umpires told me they missed it.” Shelton said. “That didn’t change the outcome in the game. The fact we didn’t get runners in was what changed the outcome of the game.”

Thompson worked out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts.


Fleming made a nifty play to end the second, reaching behind his back to field Mark Mathias’ comebacker and throw him out at first. … Tampa Bay 3B Isaac Paredes dove to his right to grab Austin Hedges‘ two-out liner in the fourth with runners on the corners. … 3B Hayes made a nifty spin move throw on Christian Bethancourt‘s inning-ending fourth-inning grounder with a man on third.


Injured Pirates 1B Ji-Man Choi (Achilles tendon) walked into his old Tampa Bay clubhouse and said ‘”Hi guys, where’s my locker?”

Rays infielder Brandon Lowe responded “out” before giving him a hug.

“I’m glad he didn’t find me,” Cash said with a laugh. “He’s a pretty exciting character.”

The popular Choi, who was with the Rays from 2018-22, received a partlal standing ovation following a video tribute.


Tampa Bay closer Pete Fairbanks, who has experienced finger numbness in cold weather associated with Raynaud’s syndrome, had his medication adjusted. He left Friday’s game at the Chicago White Sox with the issue.


Pirates RHP Mitch Keller (3-0) and Tampa Bay LHP Shane McClanahan (5-0) are Tuesday night’s starters.

Orioles sign OF Aaron Hicks, put Cedric Mullins on 10-day IL with groin strain

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Aaron Hicks less than 24 hours after Cedric Mullins went down with a strained right groin.

Mullins went on the 10-day injured list, but the Orioles are hoping Hicks can help defensively in the spacious outfield at Camden Yards. Hicks was released last week by the New York Yankees with more than 2 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

“We had noticed that he was a free agent even before the injury,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “When the injury occurred and it became pretty clear this was going to be an IL, it seemed like a good fit even more so at that time.”

The Orioles are responsible for paying Hicks just $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary. The Yankees owe him the rest of his $10.5 million salary this year, plus $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.

The 33-year-old Hicks hit just .188 in 28 games for the Yankees this year.

“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective,” Elias said. “It’s very different from just looking at the back of a baseball card, and we hope that we get a bounceback from anyone we bring here.”

Hicks batted .216 last season.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Baltimore deal. “A lot of time here and a lot of good things happened for him here. I know the last couple of years have been a struggle. But hopefully it’s a good opportunity for him and certainly wish him well. Not too well being in our division and a team we’re chasing, but hopefully it’s a really good fit for him.”

Mullins left a loss to Cleveland after he pulled up while running out an infield grounder. Outfielder Colton Cowser – the fifth pick in the draft two years ago – is hitting .331 at Triple-A Norfolk, but he went on the IL in the past couple weeks.

“Certainly he was building a case towards promotion consideration prior to his injury and prior to Cedric’s injury,” Elias said. “We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Hicks was active for the game but not in the starting lineup. Austin Hays, normally Baltimore’s left field, was in Mullins’ usual spot in center.

When the wall in left at Camden Yards was pushed significantly back before last season, it made left field a bigger challenge defensively.

“In this park … you really need two center fielders,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Aaron’s got a lot of center-field experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”