What started with a match up of aces turned into a battle of the bullpens, and Atlanta Braves were the last team standing as the Braves beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-4, ending the Rays' 4-game winning streak.
Rays' ace Charlie Morton left the game with a 4-2 lead, after the Rays scored three in their half of the sixth inning, all the runs charged to Atlanta ace Mike Soroka. But that lead didn't last long as the Braves answered right back with a three-run inning of their own in their half of the sixth off two Rays relievers.
The Rays defense showed flashes of greatness, but also had some miscues that cost them.
The Braves threatened right out of the gate against Morton as Ronald Acuna Jr. led off the game being hit by a pitch. After a strikeout of Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman doubled to center. Brandon Lowe's perfect relay throw from Kevin Kiermaier nabbed Acuna at the plate as he tried to score.
But in trailing 5-4 in the seventh, a rare misplay by Kiermaier gave away a defensive out, leaving two runners on, and after a sac fly by former Ray Travis d'Arnaud, a throwing error by Willy Adames gave Atlanta its final run.
As with the first two games against Atlanta, the Braves scored first.
In the third Acuna Jr. led off the inning with a single off Morton. After an Ozzie Albies groundout, Braves' first baseman Freddie Freeman made up for his Golden Sombrero from Tuesday night with a long two-run homer into the right field seats. Freeman went 4-for-5 after striking out four times in Tuesday's loss to the Rays.
The Rays got a run back in the fifth, again after two outs had been made. Adames singled and Mike Zunino walked. Soroka then uncorked a wild pitch, allowing the runners to advance, but Adames scored when d'Arnaud, playing his first game with the Braves, threw the ball into left field trying to nab Adames at third.
Tampa Bay took the lead in the sixth, again scoring their runs after the second out had been recorded. Kiermaier singled in Joey Wendle, who led off the inning with a single, and Hunter Renfroe drove in two with a single to left.
But the Braves stole a page from the Rays' 2020 playbook by scoring in the half inning after Tampa Bay took the lead. With Andrew Kittredge relieving Morton, he quickly gave up a run after back-to-back doubles by d'Arnaud and Dansby Swanson. Oliver Drake relieved Kittredge with one out in the inning, immediately walking Ender Inciarte. After striking out Acuna, Drake allowed back-to-back RBI singles to Albies and Freeman, the latter resulting in a great throw by Kiermaier to nab Albies trying to take third.
Drake took the loss, his first, while Darren O'Day, who relieved Soroka, earned his first win.
Thursday the Rays will end their season series with the Braves. Ryan Yarbrough will face Max Fried. Game time is 7:10, and you can listen to all the action on 95.3 WDAE.
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