ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Isaac Paredes and Yandy Díaz homered as the Tampa Bay Rays snapped a season-high, seven-game skid with a 10-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday in a matchup of teams with the best records in baseball.
Zach Eflin (10-4) gave up two runs and four hits over five innings in a 77-pitch outing as Tampa Bay avoided the three-game series sweep. The 29-year-old righty is 9-1 in 10 starts at home.
“It’s a day we kind of needed a win,” Eflin said. “Get right back on track. Take that momentum into the break.”
Travis d’Arnaud homered for the MLB-best Braves, who are 20-3 since June 14 and head into the All-Star break at 60-29. Atlanta has homered in 26 consecutive games, the longest streak in modern-era franchise history.
Atlanta All-Star Bryce Elder (7-2) allowed seven runs, six hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings, his shortest outing this season. The right-hander, who had his ERA jump from 2.45 to 2.97, went 3-0 over his previous four starts, giving up five runs in 25 2/3 innings.
“Things just weren’t happening good for him,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Just one of them days. His stuff was a little flat. Had a hard time making pitches. It’s going to happen.”
Díaz chased Elder with a two-run homer, his first in 35 games, during a three-run fourth inning that gave the Rays a 7-2 lead. He also had a two-run double in the eighth.
Jonathan Aranda had a two-run double and Paredes hit a two-run drive in the first.
Tampa Bay was limited to one run in four of its previous five games.
“It feels very good, especially after the last few games,” Rays All-Star outfielder Randy Arozarena said. “We hadn’t really had too much production. It’s really good to go into the second half finishing the first half in the way we did.”
D’Arnaud hit a solo shot in a two-run fourth.
Braves slugger Matt Olson drove in a run with a single in the sixth inning for his 72nd RBI. He wound up three short of tying Eddie Mathews (1953) and Andruw Jones (2005) for the most in franchise history at the All-Star break.
Braves: LHP Max Fried (strained left forearm) threw 35 pitches over 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his first minor league start with Triple-A Gwinnett.
“He got all his pitches in,” Snitker said. “A good first step for him.”
Rays: Ace Shane McClanahan (mid-back tightness) threw 39 pitches in his first bullpen session since being sidelined July 1. He is expected back July 16.
3B Wade Boggs was inducted into the Rays Hall of Fame, joining Don Zimmer as part of the inaugural class. The Hall of Famer, who is from nearby Tampa, spent his final two seasons with Tampa Bay where he homered for his 3,000th hit on Aug. 7, 1999.
“It’s awesome,” Boggs said. “I’m from here. I grew up here. Tampa Bay is my home.”
OF Carl Crawford will round out the 2023 inductees with a ceremony in August.
Boggs is not a fan of the extra-inning ghost runners and said that is coming from a guy that played in a 33-inning game with Triple-A Pawtucket in August 1981.
“I think it takes away from a lot of strategy of the game,” Boggs said. “That’s the unpredictably that baseball has. You don’t know when it’s going to end.”
Boggs likes the increased pace of the game, but feels it could been addressed without a pitch clock.
Braves: Host the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.
Rays: Play Friday night at Kansas City. Tampa Bay split a four-game series in late June with the Royals, who have the majors’ second-worst record at 26-65.