CHICAGO (AP) — Jalen Beeks had no idea he’d be the one called on to close out a game if Tampa Bay wound up in a difficult situation.
He came through in a big spot and helped the Rays avoid their first sweep this season.
Beeks got the final two outs after entering the game with the bases loaded, Brandon Lowe and Jose Siri each hit late two-run homers and Tampa Bay beat the Chicago Cubs 4-3 on Wednesday.
Beeks came in with one out in the ninth after the Cubs loaded the bases against Kevin Kelly. He struck out Miles Mastrobuoni swinging at a 3-2 pitch and fell behind 3-0 to Yan Gomes.
Beeks got him to look at a strike before fouling off two pitches. He then retired Gomes on a line drive to left field and came away with his first save this year.
“I don’t want to go 3-2, but in the end, it’s two outs and I got a save,” Beeks said. “That’s pretty cool.”
With closer Pete Fairbanks on the 15-day injured list because of inflammation in his left hip, Beeks said he would be comfortable in more late-game situations if manager Kevin Cash opts to use him. He’s been used in more of a utility role, making spot starts and working out of the bullpen.
“I try to pride myself on being flexible in whatever my role is, Beeks said. ”Right now, Pete’s gone down. Hopefully, I can help the team with whatever we need.”
Lowe greeted Leiter (1-1) with a long two-run homer to center in the seventh to tie it at 2-all and Siri connected in the eighth to give Tampa Bay a 4-3 lead after Chicago scored a run.
Kevin Kelly came into the game in the ninth for Tampa Bay and walked Mike Tauchman and hit a pinch-hitting Edwin Ríos. Third baseman Isaac Paredes then bounced the throw trying to get the runner at second after fielding Patrick Wisdom’s grounder, loading the bases. But Beeks came in and helped the Rays hang on.
“It was just a game full of people having each others’ backs,” Rays starter Zach Eflin said.
Seiya Suzuki chased Eflin with a leadoff double in the seventh and came around on a line-drive single to deep left by pinch hitter Trey Mancini against Colin Poche (4-1), putting Chicago on top 3-2. Mancini got thrown out trying to reach second base on the play, and the lead disappeared in a flash.
Leiter walked Taylor Walls leading off the eighth, and Siri followed with a two-run homer to center, giving Tampa Bay a 4-3 lead. But Lowe’s drive gave the Rays a big lift when it looked like they were on their way to being shut down again.
“It helped us out a lot,” Siri said through an interpreter. “It gave me confidence.”
Eflin gave up three runs and four hits. He struck out five and walked one.
Cubs starter Justin Steele retired all nine batters before exiting with tightness in his left forearm. Manager David Ross said he pulled his pitcher for precautionary reasons and he will go for more imaging on Thursday.
Hayden Wesneski pitched one-hit ball over 3 2/3 innings and exited to cheers after walking Manuel Margot with two outs in the seventh.
Rays: The Rays held SS Wander Franco (left shoulder) out of the lineup because he was “a little dinged up” after sliding into home on Tuesday, manager Kevin Cash said. … Cash said RHP Zack Littell (right shoulder fatigue) might be ready to begin a rehab assignment by the end of the weekend. “We’ll see how he continues to respond. But it seems to be headed in the right direction,” Cash said.
Rays: The Rays open a four-game series at Boston on Friday, and neither team had announced its starter.
Cubs: Struggling RHP Jameson Taillon (0-3, 8.04) seeks his first win as the Cubs open a four-game series at San Diego on Friday. Signed in December to a four-year deal worth about $68 million, Taillon has allowed four or more runs in four straight starts for the first time in his career.