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|06-10-2016, 10:00 PM||#1|
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Pearce has 3 hits, drives in 2 as Rays beat Astros 4-3
Steve Pearce continued a hot stretch with three hits and two RBIs, helping the Tampa Bay Rays to a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.
Pearce had a two-run double in the first inning, and Logan Forsythe and Brad Miller drove in runs with two-out hits off Lance McCullers (3-2) in the second to give Matt Andriese (5-0) an early four-run lead.
Houston rallied with three runs in the sixth, two on Jason Castro's homer that chased Andriese. However, the Astros were not able to overcome the slow start by McCullers against the young right-hander's hometown team.
McCullers, who grew up in Tampa, allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings. He walked four and struck out seven in his sixth start since returning from a six-week stint on the disabled list because of soreness in his pitching shoulder.
Andriese repeatedly worked through trouble to join Matt Moore, James Shields and Jeff Niemann as the only Tampa Bay pitchers to begin a season 5-0 or better. The right-hander yielded three runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings, turning over a 4-3 lead to relievers Erasmo Ramirez, Xavier Cedeno and Alex Colome, who earned his 18th save by working out a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the ninth.
Houston had nine baserunners (five singles, four walks) and two hits with men in scoring position in the first four innings, yet trailed 4-0 after Pearce and Forsythe got the Rays off to a fast start.
George Springer was thrown out trying to score from second base on Jose Altuve's single in the first, and the Astros left the bases loaded after Marwin Gonzalez, Altuve and Colby Rasmus singled with two outs in the third.
Pearce finished 3 for 4, boosting his batting average to .364 with six doubles, eight homers and 20 RBIs over his last 32 games.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa (sprained left ankle) was out of the lineup as expected, however manager A.J. Hinch said the 21-year-old could play this weekend. Correa, who's day-to-day, was hurt in Thursday's game at Texas.
"We have a chance to maybe see him this series," Hinch said. "We have an off day coming Monday, so we'll see how the next couple days go."
Rays: Forsythe (left shoulder) was reinstated from the 15-day DL after missing 28 games. INF Nick Franklin was optioned to Triple-A Durham. . RHPs Alex Cobb and Chase Whitley, both recovering from Tommy John surgery, have increased their bullpen sessions to 45 pitches.
McCullers has made two career starts against Tampa Bay, both at Tropicana Field, where he yielded four runs over six innings of a loss last July. The 22-year-old played in high school at Tampa Jesuit, which is about 20 miles northeast of the Rays' stadium. has a career record of 9-9 in 28 starts -- with most of his success coming at Houston's Minute Maid Park (6-2, 2.00 ERA in 13 regular-season starts).
The Rays began a stretch in which they will play 20 of 27 games at Tropicana Field, where Tampa Bay entered Friday night averaging an AL-worst 3.27 runs a game compared to 4.94 on road -- third-best in the league.
"I don't have a good answer. . I don't think anybody has," manager Kevin Cash said. "We need to figure it out."
The Rays send RHP Chris Archer (4-7, 4.73 ERA) to the mound against RHP Mike Fiers (3-3, 5.00) in the middle date of the three-game weekend series. Archer is 3-1 with a 0.80 ERA in five career starts vs. Houston and enters Saturday with a streak of 15 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings against the Astros. Tampa Bay is one of three teams -- along with Baltimore and Milwaukee -- that the 30-year-old Fiers has not faced during his major league career.
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