ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay bullpen came through on a day when the Rays’ strong rotation had a hiccup.
Wil Myers homered and four relievers allowed one hit over 4 1-3 scoreless innings to help the Rays beat the San Francisco Giants 4-3 on Sunday.
“Our offensive has been struggling a little bit lately, but I just think as a team our pitching has held us in the game,” Myers said. “It gives a lot of confidence.”
Alex Torres (4-0) started the bullpen parade by replacing Roberto Hernandez with two outs in the fifth and struck out two over 1 1-3 innings. Jake McGee worked a perfect seventh and Joel Peralta left Hunter Pence stranded at second after a two-out double in the eighth before Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 27th save.
“The guys are fantastic,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “The bullpen, they’re going to be the best in the American League. I think they’re close to that right now. A lot of good stuff out of the bullpen.”
Tampa Bay took a 4-3 lead in the sixth on Sam Fuld’s hit against Jose Mijares (0-3) to help the Rays win for the 25th in 31 games. The Rays took 2 of 3 from the defending World Series champion Giants and improved to 11-0-2 in their last 13 series.
San Francisco, last in the NL West, has lost 10 of 14. Manager Bruce Bochy said lineup changes are likely forthcoming, with Pence or Marco Scutaro possibly moving to the leadoff spot.
“We’re not getting any production from our leadoff hitters,” Bochy said. “We’re definitely going through a tough time and we’re going to change things up here a little bit. We’ve talked about Pence going there. (Pence) says he’s done it before, and Scutaro has experience there, and he’s done a good job of it.”
Brandon Crawford drove in two with a triple off Hernandez as the Giants grabbed a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Evan Longoria, mired in an 0 for 19 slide, pulled the Rays even at 3 on a run-scoring single during the fifth.
Tampa Bay went up 2-1 when Myers hit a two-run shot off Guillermo Moscoso in the first. Buster Posey had put the Giants up 1-0 on an RBI single during the top of the inning.
Myers has been the Rays’ most potent bat since the All-Star break, hitting .417 with five homers and 15 RBIs.
It was Moscoso’s initial start this season, taking the place of Barry Zito, who was moved to the bullpen, and first since last Aug. 15 while with Colorado. The right-hander allowed three runs, four hits and four walks over 4 2-3 innings.
Hernandez gave up three runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings.
NOTES: Rays CF Desmond Jennings was out of the lineup due to a sprained left middle finger. … Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong (fractured right hand) allowed one run and five hits over six innings for Double-A Richmond. It hasn’t been decided if he will need one more rehab start. … Tampa Bay LHP Matt Moore, on the disabled list with elbow soreness, played catch. … Giants CF Gregor Blanco tripped and went down on a knee running back to the dugout after grounding out in the first. … Florida State University baseball coach Mike Martin threw a ceremonial first pitch. Posey played for the Seminoles.