ST. PETERSBURG — After having a bit of the wind knocked out of them after a series sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays got a gust to put them back on course in the form of the lowly Kansas City Royals.
Mike Zunino’s go-ahead home run capped a big seventh inning as Tampa Bay took the series opener 6-3 against the visiting Royals on Monday night at Tropicana Field.
Avisail Garcia started the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff double and would come around to score on a fielder’s choice by Daniel Robertson. Zunino then cleared the bases after running into a 1-2 fastball from Royals starter Brad Keller, who had been cruising until that inning.
Alex Gordon put the Royals on the board with a solo shot to lead off the top of the first off Chirinos. The Rays answered back in the bottom half of the frame after Tommy Pham sliced a standup triple that was just out of reach for Royals right fielder Jorge Soler.
Chirinos would be plagued by the solo blasts throughout his outing as Soler added one in the fifth and Hunter Dozier had another in the sixth. Chirinos did not factor in the decision after going six innings allowing six hits but only three earned runs — all on long balls.
Brandon Lowe cut the lead back to one in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI double to the right-center gap to score Willy Adames.
Yandy Diaz tacked on an insurance run with a solo blast in the eighth.
The Rays continue their series against the Royals with a 7:10 start on Tuesday. Ryne Stanek (0-0, 1.46 ERA) will serve as the opener against KC’s Homer Bailey (2-1, 4.30).
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