Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Kiermaier, Loney lift Rays past Reds

The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier was optioned back to Triple-A Durham, but not before the 23-year-old's arm helped preserve a 1-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in his first major-league start Saturday.

First baseman James Loney provided all the offense with a solo homer in the second inning, and right-hander Alex Cobb pitched seven shutout innings to lift Tampa Bay to the shutout win on a breezy, early-summer like afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

But it was the rookie Kiermaier who was the focal point of the Rays' routinely boisterous post-victory clubhouse celebration.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto led off the fourth inning with a wind-blown ground-rule double to right field. Second baseman Brandon Phillips followed with a single to center field, but Kiermaier's throw to catcher Ryan Hanigan beat Votto to the plate.

"I told him we won that game because of what he did," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That was the defensive play of the year. He's the ubiquitous center fielder."

Kiermaier, who went 0-for-4 at the plate, said: "I just wanted to come up here and contribute, and defense is my bread and butter. I'll remember this one for a while."

Phillips was then thrown out attempting to steal third and right fielder Jay Bruce struck out to end the inning.

"Our defense was unbelievable all day," said Cobb, who improved to 2-0 with four hits allowed through seven innings, with no walks and five strikeouts while throwing 87 pitches. "Everybody's been hyping (Kiermaier) up. I saw it first-hand today."

Reds right-handed pitcher Alfredo Simon (1-1), who is filling in for injured right-hander Mat Latos in the rotation, allowed one run and five hits, with one walk and four strikeouts over a career-high eight innings.

Simon's only run allowed came when Loney launched an 0-1 pitch 412 feet into the right-field stands in the second inning. It was Loney's first home run this season.

"Freddie was terrific," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He hung a splitter (to Loney), but other than that, he kept everything down. I think he sees himself as a starter or a primary setup man or a closer. He's given us a huge shot in the arm."

The teams combined to go 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners.

"We hit some balls hard, they hit some balls hard, it was one of those days," Maddon said. "We got a homer and that's all we needed to win."

Cobb retired the first eight batters he faced before shortstop Zack Cozart's double in the third inning.

Cincinnati also missed a scoring chance in the sixth inning.

Cobb hit shortstop Zack Cozart with a pitch. He then stole second base and reached third on Simon's sacrifice bunt. But Cobb retired the next two batters to end the threat.

Simon, who retired 12 straight batters following shortstop Yunel Escobar's second-inning double, kept the Rays' offense at bay through seven innings with only 83 pitches.

Cincinnati's defense helped Simon with fielding gems by Votto and Phillips in the fourth, and one by Cozart on shortstop Yunel Escobar's grounder over second base in the seventh.

Third baseman Evan Longoria's diving stab of left fielder Ryan Ludwick's hard grounder ended the Reds' seventh.

Right-handed closer Grant Balfour, who walked three to load the bases in the ninth inning on Friday before earning the save in the Rays' 2-1 victory, minimized the drama on Saturday.

Balfour walked Votto with one out in the ninth, but got Phillips to hit into a 5-4-3 double play to finish off his fourth save.

Cincinnati's offensive doldrums continued, prompting a postgame team meeting with Price.

"It was just a friendly reminder of what we've got here and who we are as a team," catcher Brayan Pena said. "It was a very positive meeting. The skipper got involved."

NOTES: After the game, Tampa Bay selected from Triple-A Durham LHP Erik Bedard and optioned CF Kevin Kiermaier to Triple-A. ... Reds RHP Alfredo Simon pitched eight innings for the first time since Sept. 23, 2011, while with the Baltimore Orioles. ... Reds 1B Joey Votto batted second for only the ninth time and first since Aug. 8, 2008. Manager Bryan Price said the move was intended to spark the Reds' struggling offense. "I just don't feel like a sit-on-your-hands approach is the best way to turn this thing around," Price said. ... Votto and 2B Brandon Phillips made their 792nd start together, the most of any 1B/2B tandem in franchise history and second among active players behind Phillies 1B Ryan Howard and 2B Chase Utley.
Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (0)