ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Michael Perez hit a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth inning and the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 on Wednesday night.
The backup catcher homered to center off Mychal Givens (0-1). It was his first long ball since Aug. 10, 2018.
“That was a big one,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Really sparked the dugout.”
Ryan Sherriff (1-0) worked a perfect eighth in his first big league game since May 7, 2018, due to Tommy John surgery.
“It felt really good,” Sherriff said. “It’s been a long journey for me. It’s crazy how the universe works. Just so grateful to be here.”
Sherriff was brought up from the alternate training site before the game.
“That was pretty awesome,” Cash said. ” A cool moment.”
Diego Castillo pitched the ninth to get his first save. Ten Tampa Bay relievers have a save this season.
Brandon Lowe hit his 10th homer for the Rays, who have won nine of 11. Oft-injured center fielder Kevin Kiermaier left with back spasms in the fifth.
Cash is hopeful that it will be a day to day situation for Kiermaier.
The Orioles are 8-3 on the road after losing the first two games of the series. Their only other defeat away from home came opening day at Boston.
Baltimore is 14-16 at the midway point of the regular season.
“We’re continuing to play well,” outfielder Cedric Mullins said. “There are always some things we can continue to improve upon.”
One day after his 18-game hitting streak ended, Anthony Santander pulled the Orioles even at 3 on an RBI single in the seventh.
Lowe tied it at 2 on a two-run drive in the third. It was his seventh homer over his last 14 games.
Pinch-hitter Yandy Díaz put the Rays up 3-2 in the fifth with a fielder’s choice.
Mullins opened the first inning with his major league-leading sixth bunt single and scored when Rays right fielder Hunter Renfroe misplayed Hanser Alberto’s single. Renato Núñez’s fielder’s choice made it 2-0.
Kiermaier grabbed his back while running to second on double-play grounder in the fourth and departed one inning later while batting. He didn’t start, but entered as a defensive replacement Tuesday after departing Monday’s game after getting hitting by a pitch on the right foot.
Orioles: SS José Iglesias (left quadriceps) took grounders, hit and ran the bases and should be ready to come off the IL in the next day or two. ... C Pedro Severino (hip flexor) is also close to coming back. “That’s a big deal for us,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’re a lot deeper with both those guys taking at-bats.”
Rays: RHP Charlie Morton (right shoulder) will throw to hitters Thursday. ... LHP Jalen Beeks (left elbow strain) was placed on the 45-day IL. Tampa Bay has nine pitchers on the IL.
Orioles: LHP John Means (0-2, 10.13) and Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough (0-2, 4.45) are Thursday night’s starters. Means has yet to exhibit the form he showed as a rookie last year, in part because he started season on the IL with arm fatigue and spent time on the bereavement list earlier this month after his father passed away