ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Francisco Mejía had an eighth-inning sacrifice fly and the major league-leading Tampa Bay Rays beat the Milwaukee Brewers 1-0 on Friday night.
Luke Raley was hit by a pitch from Peter Strzelecki (2-3) leading off the eighth. Raley stole second, went to third on catcher William Contreras’ throwing error and came home on Mejía’s fly to left.
“That’s my approach everytime,” Raley said. “I don’t care how I get on base. I just want to get in base. Getting on is the most important thing. I’ll never get out of the way of a pitch.”
Raley’s stolen base came on a hit and run before Mejía delievered.
“Frankie is pretty good at putting the ball in play,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “It’s just a pressure at-bat.”
Jason Adam (1-1) struck out Willy Adames to end the eighth with Owen Miller on third. Peter Fairbanks worked the ninth for his fourth save, stranding a runner at third.
Tampa Bay (33-13), coming off a 4-6 trip, improved to 20-3 at home. The home mark ties the 1922 New York Giants, 1978 Boston Red Sox and 1979 Montreal Expos for the best MLB record through 23 games, since 1901.
Rays ace Shane McClanahan failed in his bid to become the majors’ first eight-game winner despite going seven shutout innings in which he allowed six hits and had seven strikeouts, and saw his ERA fall from 2.34 to 2.05.
“He looked pretty locked in to me,” Cash said.
McClanahan was coming off his worst outing of the season when he allowed four runs in four innings against the New York Yankees on May 13.
Milwaukee’s Adrian Houser scattered four hits over six scoreless innings in his third start this year. The right-hander, who had worked a combined 8 2/3 innings in his first two starts since returning from a right groin strain, had his ERA drop from 5.19 to 3.07.
“I thought Adrian pitched wonderful,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Brewers left fielder Christian Yelich started after missing two games with back issues and went 0 for 4.
There were a number of strong defensive plays.
The Rays had runners on the corners with one out in the third when Josh Lowe hit an inning-ending 3-6-2 grounder.
First baseman Mike Brosseau fielded Lowe’s grounder, looked and held Jose Siri at third before throwing to shortstop Adames for a forceout at second. Siri then headed toward the plate but was caught in no-man’s land as Adames ran in and reached the plate area before throwing the ball to catcher William Contreras, who applied the tag.
Adames was thrown out trying to advance to third from second by Lowe on Brian Anderson’s fly to right with no outs in the second. Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena was thrown out by right fielder Tyrone Taylor at third on Brandon Lowe’s fourth-inning single.
Siri had a nifty running catch at the center-field wall on Taylor’s drive in the fifth.
“They played good defense, we matched kind of their defensive plays with throws,” Counsell said.
The game took 2 hours, 6 minutes. … The Rays lead the majors with eight shutouts. … Miller extended both his career high hitting streak (11 games) and on-base (20) streaks with an infield single in the eighth,
Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (oblique) had a mound session and should make his final minor league appearance Sunday for Triple-A Durham. … 1B Yandy Díaz (groin, four games) should start Saturday.
Brewers LHP Eric Lauer (4-4) will start or follow an opener Saturday. The Rays will counter with RHP Zach Eflin (5-1).
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