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Colome blows away Astros' big bats in 8th

Rays reliever steps in with McGee injured, strikes out Altuve, Gonzalez and Correa

HOUSTON -- Alex Colome brought a little something extra out of the bullpen Wednesday night in a situation where the Rays needed a lift -- the eighth inning. With Jake McGee headed to St. Petersburg, Fla., to have his left knee examined on Thursday morning, the Rays needed somebody to step up and serve as the team's setup man. Enter Colome.

While Colome got the job done, needing just 10 pitches to retire the side in the eighth, the Rays could not hold their 2-1 lead in the ninth and the game went to extra innings, where the Astros won, 3-2, in the 13th for a walk-off win on consecutive nights.

"Colome, what an outing by him," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Colome began the season in the starting rotation and made 13 starts before moving to the bullpen. Though he had to make some adjustments to the new arrangement, the Dominican right-hander has done particularly well since the All-Star break.

"A couple of weeks ago, the first few times I pitched out of the bullpen, I feel different," Colome said. "Now I've got the routine and I come into the mound and do my job. I feel really comfortable with this."

Heading into Wednesday night's game, Colome had made nine appearances since the break and pitched to a 0.63 ERA. That included a dominant performance Sunday against the Rangers when he pitched three scoreless innings.

With the Rays leading, 2-1, Colome had to start the inning by facing the Astros' buzzsaw, Jose Altuve.

Colome started him out with a 96-mph fastball that Altuve watched for strike one. He followed with cutters on the next two pitches, and Altuve swung -- and missed -- at both for the first out.

Marwin Gonzalez was next, looking at strike one before Colome's cutter missed for ball one. That would be the last ball Colome threw in the inning. Gonzalez swung and missed at a cutter for strike two then swung and missed at a curve for strike three.

Carlos Correa, who hit a walk-off single in the 13th, became Colome's final out when went down swinging on three pitches to finish off the inning.

"I use all my pitches," Colome said. "Now I use more my curveball. More fastball-curveball. I have four pitches: cutter, changeup, fastball, curveball. When I started, I only used changeup-cutter. Now I use my curveball, and that helps my fastball more than anything."

Going forward, Cash allowed that he can see Colome pitching in the late innings, no matter what news they receive about McGee's condition on Thursday.

"I definitely think that's basically what is going to take place, regardless," Cash said. "Not because of the injury, because of the way he's pitched. He's deserving of some of those opportunities. You're not going to see a better performance of one-two-three against that lineup. We've got plenty of guys we think can pitch in high-leveraged situations and he's one of them."

Colome wants to pitch in the late innings and would embrace more opportunities to do so.

"Feel really comfortable," Colome said. "I feel like really good. I only need the chance to pitch. I don't care what situation. I need the chance to pitch and I know I can do my job."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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