This time, Rays rally back in 9th to beat Braves on Jose Siri home run (2024)

ATLANTA — Jose Siri was feeling a little bit lost.

Running toward first as he watched the two-strike pitch he laced fly toward the left-centerfield wall, he drifted well to his right, toward the Braves dugout.

“I knew I hit it well and when you hit it a certain angle you kind of know if it’s going to go out or not,” said Siri, via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “But I had no idea, really, where I was running after I connected.”

By the time he saw the ball clear the wall, he was nearly past first and had to make a sharp left, and then he was in familiar territory.

Siri rounded the bases, flexing and posing as he made his way across the plate, delivering yet another in a string of recent clutch hits, a two-run homer with one out in the ninth to give his Rays an 8-6 sweep-avoiding, morale-boosting win over the Braves.

This time, Rays rally back in 9th to beat Braves on Jose Siri home run (1)

“I felt really good because we got the lead,” Siri said.

The struggling Rays weren’t feeling too good a few minutes earlier, as the remnants of what had been a 6-2 advantage disappeared in the eighth inning when Jason Adam allowed a two-run homer to Austin Riley to cap an 11-pitch battle. That after a combination of four straight two-out singles off starter Zach Eflin and some shoddy defense led to two Atlanta runs in the sixth.

“Wins are really tough to come by right now,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I think we’re feeling that every game we’re in right now. You know, 6-2, normally you’re feeling pretty good about your chances.

“But the reality is teams are playing us tough. We’re not doing some things that we’re maybe capable of doing to extend leads. And that team’s good over there. They came back. But I’m pleased with the effort for sure (Sunday).”

The win improved the Rays to 34-38 (though still in last place in the AL East) as they headed to enjoy Monday off in rainy Minnesota before continuing a nine-game, 10-day road trip.

And, they hope, put them in a better place, having lost seven of their previous nine games and nine of 14.

“Obviously this year, we’ve been there before,” said catcher Ben Rortvedt, who hit a fourth-inning grand slam to put the Rays ahead. “So try not to get too down and try to stay in the fight as much as we can.”

Eflin did a solid job to get them to the sixth with the 6-2 lead.

A Yandy Diaz leadoff double and a bit of a rare break — a Randy Arozarena grounder that caromed off second base to become an RBI single — got the Rays their usual first-inning run. Homers by Jarred Kelenic (leading off the first) and ex-Ray Travis d’Arnaud in the second put Atlanta up, and Brandon Lowe got the Rays even with a 429-foot blast in the third.

This time, Rays rally back in 9th to beat Braves on Jose Siri home run (2)

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This time, Rays rally back in 9th to beat Braves on Jose Siri home run (3)

The Rays got their first big hit of the steamy afternoon in the fourth to cap what really wasn’t much of a one-out rally.

They loaded the bases on Arozarena being hit by a 3-2 pitch, a four-pitch walk to Richie Palacios and a five-pitch pass to Siri from location-challenged Braves rookie Hurston Waldrep, a 2023 draftee from the University of Florida making his second big-league start.

Despite Waldrep throwing nine of his last 10 pitches for balls, Rortvedt swung at the first, and lofted a hanging slider 359 feet and just inside the rightfield foul pole.

“We had a lot of good at-bats leading up and then Ben came up to the plate ready to hit,” Cash said. “He got a ball he could pull. We weren’t sure from the dugout if it was going to stay fair or not.”

Rortvedt said he knew about halfway to first he had his first career grand slam.

“That was a really good feeling,” he said.

Eflin kept it 6-2 until two outs into the sixth, when he allowed four consecutive two-out singles. The third, by Adam Duvall, scored one Atlanta run. The fourth, combined with an error by first-time third baseman Palacios, who made an impressive diving stop and an absolutely terrible throw, cut the lead to 6-4.

The Braves got back to even in their eighth as Adam allowed a one-out double to Matt Olson, then the homer to Riley.

“I’ve got to be better than that,” Adam said.

The Rays rally started with Arozarena, who had several good at-bats, working an eight-pitch walk off reliever Raisel Iglesias. After Palacios struck out, Siri took a ball and a strike, fouled a ball off his foot, then stepped back in and saved the Rays again.

“That was awesome,” Eflin said. “Exactly what we needed.”

• • •

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This time, Rays rally back in 9th to beat Braves on Jose Siri home run (2024)
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