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Rays Hold On To Take Opener From Marlins

Michael Perez's bases-clearing double in the fourth inning broke a 2-2 tie, and the Tampa Bay Rays would hold on to defeat the Miami Marlins 5-4 Friday at Tropicana Field to take the opener of the three-game series.

Tampa Bay opened the scoring in the bottom of the second thanks to a solo home run by Yoshi Tsutsugo, his fifth of the year, but Miami tied the game in the third when former Ray Corey Dickerson homered to left off Tampa Bay starter Josh Fleming, and took a 2-1 lead on a solo blast by another former Rays slugger, Jesus Aguilar, in the fourth.

But Marlins starter Pablo Lopez couldn't hold the lead, as Joey Wendle led off the bottom of the inning with a base hit. Austin meadows drew a walk, and Tsutsugo loaded the bases two batters later on a base hit to right. manuel Margot lined out for the second out of the inning, but Kevin kiermaier tied the game by drawing a walk and forcing in Wendle. Perez then lined a double past Dickerson and to the left-centerfield wall, clearing the bases and giving the Rays a 5-2 lead.

Fleming gave two runs right back in the top of the fifth on a double by Jon Berti, but got Garrett Cooper to ground out, stranding the tying run at third base.

The left-hander would exit after the fifth, and earn his third win in as many starts at the big-league level, becoming the third Rays pitcher to win each of his first three starts, following Jeremy Hellickson in 2010 and Jake Faria in 2017.

Tampa Bay got scoreless innings from Ryan Thompson, Pete Fairbanks, Diego Castillo, and Nick Anderson, who worked a scoreless ninth for his first appearance after being activated from the injured list earlier in the day and earning his fourth save.

The win improves the Rays to 15 games over .500 on the season at 27-12, the best record in theAmerican League and two games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for best record in all of baseball.

Tampa Bay can earn a series win Saturday evening with a victory in the middle game of the series. Blake Snell (3-0, 3.14 ERA) will get the start, taking on Sandy Alcantara (1-1, 5.06 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 with coverage on WDAE beginning at 5:30 with The Inside Pitch.

Photo: Getty Images

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