CLEVELAND (AP) Asdrubal Cabrera’s return to Cleveland couldn’t have gone much better.
Cabrera, who played eight seasons with the Indians, hit one of three solo home runs for Tampa Bay, leading the Rays to a 4-1 victory Friday night.
Cabrera, who played for the Indians from 2007 until being traded to Washington last July, broke a 1-all tie with a two-out homer in the second inning.
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”It was special,” said Cabrera, who also singled in the seventh. ”Earlier in the first inning I was a little nervous, but after I hit the homer I felt better.”
Joey Butler homered in the first inning and Steven Souza Jr. added a home run in the ninth for Tampa Bay, which has won seven of eight.
Cabrera admitted playing against his former teammates and being in the visitors’ clubhouse was a different feeling.
”It was kind of weird,” he said. ”All your friends are on the other side, but as soon as you play ball you have to forget about it and do your job and try to win.”
Rookie right-hander Nathan Karns (4-3) allowed one run in 5 1-3 innings for his first win since May 13.
Four relievers followed with Brad Boxberger pitching the ninth for his 17th save. Boxberger walked two, but struck out Michael Bourn to end the game.
The Rays lead the AL East by one game over the New York Yankees.
Carlos Carrasco (8-6) gave up three runs in 6 2-3 innings. Cleveland fell to 13-20 at home and hasn’t won consecutive games since a three-game winning streak May 30-June 2.
Jason Kipnis was 3 for 4, extending his hitting streak to 14 games. He has hit safely in 23 consecutive home games.
Rays rookie manager Kevin Cash was Cleveland’s bullpen coach on manager Terry Francona’s staff the last two seasons. Cash was a catcher for Boston when Francona managed the Red Sox.
”Really happy for Asdrubal Cabrera coming back,” Cash said. ”These fans got to see him play and really play well. I know they probably didn’t like the home run but it’s nice to come back to your home team that you grew up in and play well, so we’re happy for him.”
Cabrera, who signed with the Rays in January, came into the game batting .204. The homer was his fourth of the season.
Butler’s one-out homer gave Tampa Bay the lead. Karns’ wild pitch with Carlos Santana batting scored Kipnis from third base and tied the game in the bottom of the inning.
Jake Elmore added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Francona thought Carrasco pitched well enough to win.
”Overall, actually pretty good,” Francona said of Carrasco’s performance. ”Two solo homers. You never want to see the homers, but two solo homers and a sac fly. On a lot of nights, we’re probably saying he pitched pretty well.”
Kipnis started the eighth with a single off Jake McGee, but was doubled up when Souza made a sliding catch of Francisco Lindor’s fly ball near the right field line and threw to first.
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The Indians showed a ”welcome back” video for Cash during batting practice that featured the Rays manager being body-slammed by Indians reliever Marc Rzepczynski in the bullpen last season.
Francona called Cash ”one of the most special people I’ve come across in this game,” but he found some humor in the matchup. Asked if he and Cash would try to out-think one another, Francona said, ”I’m not very smart and he’s not much smarter.”
Rays: OF/DH John Jaso (bruised left wrist) took batting practice for the first time since being injured on opening day.
Indians: C Yan Gomes (stiff neck) was out of the lineup, but is expected to play in the next day or two.
Rays: RHP Erasmo Ramirez has won six of seven decisions since April 19. He recorded his career-high sixth in his last start against Washington.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber, who has lost his last three starts, will go against the Rays.