Back On Top: Rays Take Opener From Oakland, Regain AL East Lead

ST. PETERSBURG (WDAE) -- Charlie Morton and two relievers combined to throw a two-hit shutout, and Brandon Lowe, Kevin Kiermaier and Ji-Man Choi each hit two run homers as the Tampa Bay Rays moved into first place in the American League East with a 6-2 victory over the Oakland A's Monday at Tropicana Field.

Monday's contest started as a pitcher's duel, as Morton and Oakland starter Tanner Anderson each put up zeroes through the first five innings, but Anderson would not be able to match the veteran after he added a sixth goose egg, walking Austin meadows to begin the inning, and after a groundout by Tommy Pham moved im into scoring position, Lowe took a 1-0 pitch to the opposite field for his team-leading 14th home run of the year, most among American League rookies.

 

Anderson, who went to Plant High School in Tampa, would be saddled with the loss.

Kiermaier added a two-run blast of his own a inning later against reliever Yusmeiro Petit, his eighth of the season, and Choi added a two-run home run to right-center, his seventh, against Joakim Soria in the eighth.

Morton wiggled out of a bases loaded one out jam in the third, striking out Khris Davis and getting a groundout from Stephen Piscotty, and finished with just two hits and two walks allowed with seven strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 2.10.

Colin Poche worked a scoreless eighth and exited with one out in the ninth and pinch-hitter Mark Canha at first base. Piscotty doubled off Chaz Roe to bring in Canha and end the shutout, and Robbie Grossman's base hit made it 6-2 before Roe could finish the game off.

The win, coupled with a rainout in the Bronx between the Yankees and Mets, allowed the Rays to move back alone into first place in the American League East.

TUESDAY'S MATCHUP

Tampa Bay Rays (41-24) vs. Oakland Athletics (33-34), 7:10 pm first pitch, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 6:00 with The Inside Pitch.

Rays starter: RHP Ryne Stanek (0-1, 2.78 ERA)

Athletics starter: RHP Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.76 ERA)

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