Rays rally late to beat Royals, snap 6-game losing streak

ST. PETERSBURG — Brandon Lowe had a feeling he might get a chance in the seventh inning Sunday.

The second baseman wasn’t in the starting lineup, but with the Rays desperate for offense he knew he needed to be ready. After loosening up with some swings in the cage and waiting on the bench with his batting gloves and guards on, Lowe got the call with the bases loaded and one out.

He cracked a laser down the rightfield line for a triple to bring in three runs, sparking a 4-1, come-from-behind, slump-busting win in front of an announced 20,789 at Tropicana Field.

The win snapped a season-high six-game losing streak that had been the longest active streak in the majors, along with the Rangers (who also snapped theirs Sunday). It was the first win for the Rays (26-28) since May 18 and their first at home since May 11. It also snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Royals (34-20).

“Anytime that you go through a little skid as we did, I mean, it sucks and you want to move past it as quickly as possible,” Lowe said. “They happen. But to get a win that way, to show up in those high-stress situations, it feels good and I feel like it really ignites everybody around it.”

Lowe, who recently returned from a 30-game absence due to an oblique strain, had not tripled since April 2023. His three RBIs were his most since he hit a grand slam on March 29. Jose Siri followed with an RBI single to cap the four-run inning.

Harold Ramirez, who began the rally with a leadoff single, had two hits. Starting pitcher Taj Bradley threw five scoreless innings, working around a hit and three walks. He struck out six.

Shawn Armstrong, who pitched two scoreless innings as the opener Friday against the Royals, gave up a leadoff homer to Bobby Witt Jr. in the sixth to break a scoreless tie. Garrett Cleavinger, Kevin Kelly and Pete Fairbanks (despite loading the bases) each pitched a scoreless inning to close out the win.

“It’s amazing,” said Richie Palacios, who made his first big-league appearance at shortstop in the eighth inning. “We know we’ve been having good ABs, and then just having (Lowe’s triple) fall in there ... it felt like a sigh of relief. And everybody was excited about that. So, you know, it’s always good when those balls fall in for us.”

The Rays hadn’t had that feeling in a while, and it didn’t look like that would change early Sunday.

The Rays did not get a runner on base until the sixth inning, as former Tampa Bay pitcher Michael Wacha retired the first 15 batters he faced. Jose Caballero broke up the perfect-game bid when he led off the sixth with a scorched ground ball that got past third baseman Maikel Garcia for a double.

Siri moved Caballero to third with a ground ball to third, and Yandy Diaz worked a 10-pitch walk, putting runners at first and third with two outs. But Jonny DeLuca struck out to end the inning.

It was further evidence of the problems that had been plaguing the Rays during their slump. They averaged just 2.3 runs over the six losses, hitting a measly .170 with just nine extra-base hits.

So in the seventh, after Ramirez led off with a single to center, Isaac Paredes doubled to left and Randy Arozarena was hit by a pitch, manager Kevin Cash gambled. He sent Jonathan Aranda up to pinch-hit for Amed Rosario and then Lowe to hit for Caballero, the only other shortstop on the roster.

“We needed runs right there,” Cash said, " and that may be at a cost of something, since Cabby has been so good defensively.”

The gamble paid off. Palacios, a college shortstop, did not get a ball hit to him in his two innings, and the Rays came away with a win and a change in the narrative, at least for the moment.

“The guys needed to feel good about something,” Cash said. “They needed to feel good about themselves. So, happy that we have an off day (Monday) with a ‘W.’ You go into some of these stretches like we’ve been in, and that 24 hours on a day off doesn’t feel too good. So, hopefully we appreciate it a little bit more.”

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