Rays Score 10 Runs In Sixth, Avoid Being Swept By Yankees

Kevin Kiermaier and the Rays were all smiles during a 14-0 win over the Yankees on Thursday. (Tampa Bay Rays)

ST. PETERSBURG — The long ball and an exceptional outing by Luis Patino paved the way for the Rays to salvage the final game of their three-game series against the Yankees.

Austin Meadows’ three-run homer capped a four-run first inning against Gerrit Cole and Brett Phillips broke the game open with the first grand slam of his career during a 10-run sixth en route to a 14-0 win Thursday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

The win, which snapped a three-game losing streak, brought the Rays to within two games of first-place Boston in the American League East, pending Thursday night’s game between the Red Sox and Blue Jays.

“That was a pretty big inning,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “There were a lot of good at-bats and balls that were barreled up. It was a big offensive day and that was good to see.”

Phillips, Ji-Man Choi and Meadows homered in the sixth when the Rays had 11 straight players reach safely (with help from a Brett Gardner error) and sent 15 batters to the plate. It was their biggest inning since also scoring 10 runs at Miami on June 25, 2008.

“Innings like that and games like that are few and far between during the course of a season,” said Phillips. “It feels great. I mean, it’s exciting and I am glad that I was able to contribute to a team win.”

The two-homer game was Meadows’ (5 RBIs) second multi-homer performance in five days as he also hit a pair last Saturday at Cleveland.

Meanwhile, Patino had the best start of his career in blanking the Yankees for six innings while allowing only three singles and striking out eight.

“So impressed with the poise he showed, making big pitch after big pitch,” said Cash. “He was in attack mode the entire time and set himself up for success.”

The 21-year-old righthander struck out the side in the fourth as part of a stretch in which he retired 10 straight, a string that ended with a fifth-inning walk to Estevan Florial.

Patino was coming off an effort last Sunday in Cleveland in which he allowed four runs in five and one-third innings.

“It was a marvelous day for me,” said Patino, through interpreter Manny Navarro. “Since my last outing in Cleveland, I gained some confidence and all I need to do is go out and do my job.”

Cole settled in nicely after allowing four runs before recording an out. He struck out 10 of 16 batters after yielding the Meadows homer. The Rays, though, got to him — and reliever Albert Abreu — in the sixth.

Cole exited after five and one-third innings and was charged with eight runs, seven earned. He fell to 1-6 with a 4.45 ERA in his career against the Rays.

The Rays, who are 29-13 in day games, improved to 9-7 against the Yankees. They had lost six of the last nine to their division rival.

The Rays’ nine-game homestand continues Friday night (7:10) when the Red Sox are in town for the first of three games. Josh Fleming will start for the Rays and Boston will send Martin Perez to the mound.

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.