Rays’ 8-game winning streak snapped by Braves after costly 8th inning
ATLANTA (AP) — Tyler Flowers isn’t a fan of pinch-hitting. On his memorable day, even that went right.
Pinch-runner Adam Duvall scored the tiebreaking run on a delayed dash from third base and Flowers hit a two-run homer in Atlanta’s four-run eighth inning as the Braves beat Tampa Bay 9-5 on Tuesday night to snap the Rays’ eight-game winning streak.
Flowers’ homer came after he agreed to a contract extension that could keep him in Atlanta through the 2020 season.
“It was a pretty good day,” Flowers said. “All in all, it wasn’t too bad.”
The homer was Atlanta’s sixth by pinch-hitters this season, tied for the most in the majors. Asked if he had become more comfortable as a pinch-hitter, Flowers said, “Not a bit, no.”
Chaz Roe (1-3) walked Kurt Suzuki to open the eighth. Suzuki advanced to third on Ozzie Albies’ third hit, a double to the right-field corner.
Duvall, running for Suzuki, initially remained at third base on Dansby Swanson‘s groundout to second. When first baseman Jake Bauers looked to possibly throw to second, where Albies was standing off the bag, Duvall took off in a desperate sprint for the plate.
Home plate umpire Chad Fairchild called Duvall safe on his slide under the tag of catcher Michael Perez, beating Bauers’ throw. A video review lasting 1 minute, 45 seconds, confirmed the call.
Bauers said he looked to second base because he thought Duvall was running on contact and already had scored. Then Bauers said he heard third baseman Matt Duffy yelling for him to throw to Perez.
“I did my best to throw it home and get him,” Bauers said. “Obviously he snuck in.”
Flowers’ homer landed in the Rays’ bullpen behind the left-field wall. Ender Inciarte, who drove in two runs on four hits, added another homer to center off Andrew Kittredge.
The Rays suffered their first loss since Aug. 18 at Boston.
“It just means we have to start again,” said Brandon Lowe, who hit his first homer, a two-run shot , in the sixth. “Losing stinks but now you can start another winning streak.”
Brad Brach (2-3) recorded the final out in the eighth. The Rays loaded the bases off A.J. Minter with two outs in the ninth. Willy Adames’ groundout ended the game, and first-place Atlanta moved 4½ games ahead of Philadelphia in the NL East.
Tampa Bay trailed 5-2 before Adames’ single off Jonny Venters in the eighth drove in Tommy Pham from second for a 5-5 tie.
Nick Markakis doubled in two runs in Atlanta’s four-run fifth inning.
Braves starter Julio Teheran gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Rays: OF Mallex Smith (viral infection) worked out at Tropicana Field after being released from the hospital Sunday. There is no timetable for his return to the team.
Braves: RHP Arodys Vizcaino, who has been out since July 14 while on the DL for the second time this season with right shoulder inflammation, threw in the bullpen. Manager Brian Snitker said Vizcaino is “feeling good now” but needs to appear in a minor league rehab game before more is known about his outlook for this season.
Rays opener Ryne Stanek pitched a scoreless first inning before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the second. Yonny Chirinos allowed five runs, two earned, on seven hits and three walks in five innings.
The 32-year-old Flowers agreed to a $4 million contract for 2019 and a $6 million club option, with a $2 million buyout, for 2020.
The Rays led 2-1 before Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson opened the fifth with singles off the gloves of second baseman Joey Wendle and Duffy, respectively. Teheran’s bunt was mishandled by Bauers for an error and then picked up by Duffy, who threw low to first for another error, allowing Albies to score the tying run.
Rays: RHP Diego Castillo (3-2, 3.23 ERA) is expected to make only his third start when the two-game series concludes on Wednesday night. He has appeared in 30 games in relief.
Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (11-6, 3.57) will make his second start of the season against the Rays. He threw six scoreless innings in a 1-0 win on May 8 at Tampa Bay.