ST. PETERSBURG -- Offense continues to fuel the Rays' fortunes. Wednesday afternoon, a four-run sixth provided the separation needed to lead to an 8-3 win over the Reds at Tropicana Field.The Rays (39-36) claimed the series with the win, sending the Reds (30-41) to their 11th loss in their last
ST. PETERSBURG -- Offense continues to fuel the Rays' fortunes. Wednesday afternoon, a four-run sixth provided the separation needed to lead to an 8-3 win over the Reds at Tropicana Field.
The Rays (39-36) claimed the series with the win, sending the Reds (30-41) to their 11th loss in their last 12 games. The Rays have won seven straight rubber match games, improving to 8-1-3 over their last 12 series.
"Good to win another series," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We overcame some mistakes, obviously, but we got some big hits, some timely hits."
• Innings start to mount for Reds' bullpen
After the Reds cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth, the Rays answered in the bottom half of the inning. Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza Jr. came through with two-out RBI singles in advance of Logan Morrison's two-run double that pushed the lead to 7-2.
"Any time there's a runner on base you want to get them in," Morrison said. "... To me, the more runs we can score, the better."
All of the Rays' runs in the sixth came with two outs.
"It's extremely disappointing," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It would have been a good feeling to not just break a losing streak [on Monday] but to win a series. It's important for us to do what we want to do, we have to start to knock down the series."
Trevor Plouffe and Taylor Featherston hit solo home runs, giving the Rays multiple home runs in a game for four consecutive games.
Rays starter Erasmo Ramirez held the Reds scoreless and hitless through four innings before Scott Schebler hit his 20th homer to center field to lead off the fifth and cut the Rays' lead to 3-1. The right-hander allowed two runs on two hits and three walks while striking out six in 5 1/3 innings to come away with his fourth win of the season.
Reds starter Tim Adleman took his fourth loss of the season after allowing three runs on seven hits and four walks with seven strikeouts in five innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Newcomer contributing: Plouffe joined the team on Tuesday, and after a rough beginning that saw him go 1-for-4 while leaving five runners on base in the Rays loss, the veteran went 1-for-3 Tuesday night while also chipping in to help calm starter Alex Cobb after he thought he'd picked off a runner at first, but the runner was called safe. Wednesday afternoon, Plouffe played third base to give Evan Longoria a day off. And he came through with his first home run as a Ray when he led off the fourth with his eighth home run of the season.
"It means a lot [to contribute]," Plouffe said. "It's a little bit different atmosphere. Coming from Oakland, we weren't playing too well over there and the first day I got here, the first thing we talked about was winning series and how well the guys had been playing. Of course I want to contribute any way I can to wins. So far, so good." More >
Limiting the damage: The Rays were protecting a 3-1 lead when the Reds got busy in the sixth. Scooter Gennett singled with one out and Joey Votto walked, prompting Rays manager Kevin Cash to bring in Jumbo Diaz to replace Ramirez. The right-hander struck out Adam Duvall swinging before walking Eugenio Suarez to load the bases. Jose Alvarado then took over for Diaz to face Schebler, who hit a hard shot back through the middle. Alvarado swung around and deflected the ball with his glove. Had he let the ball go, it would likely have gone directly to Daniel Robertson, who was shifted behind second base. Instead, the ball deflected toward the first base line allowing Schebler to reach on an infield single and Gennett to score the Reds' second run. With the inning still very much alive, Alvarado recovered to strike out Devin Mesoraco to end the threat.
Alvarado "did a nice job," Cash said. "A real nice job. Unfortunately, the ball gets by him, [Robertson's] standing right there. You're going to react as a pitcher. If he catches it, he makes the play. Overall, really impressed with his work. He came in and pounded the strike zone. Like the way that he went to the curveballs and got them in the zone early."
"I told Smith that we needed him in there, because I wasn't running down Billy, that's for sure. I was giving the ball up right away. You know, they always say one throw is the best rundown. I say get them out." -- Plouffe, on the 6-5-2-4-5-7 rundown play that saw left-field Mallex Smith tag out Billy Hamilton More >
"Once we get a few wins, we will be alright. I feel like once we get a couple of games in row, we can get back to what we were doing earlier in the season. This season has kind of been up and down. We had a stretch where we were winning a lot of games and stretches where we lose a lot of games." -- Hamilton, on the team's recent stretch
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time the Reds had two players with 20 home runs through their first 71 games was 1970 when Tony Perez had 26 and Johnny Bench had 25. Votto and Schebler have 20 homers this season for Cincinnati.
Reds rookie reliever Ariel Hernandez worked a perfect eighth inning vs. the Rays. In three big league appearances, including the last two games, Hernandez has retired all 14 batters he has faced. He was summoned from Double-A Pensacola on Monday.
"He's been terrific," Price said. "He's throwing the ball over the plate with a real nice fastball-breaking ball. I think we could have come out of Spring Training and said this guy might have the best fastball-breaking ball in the organization. The concern was he had a lack of experience in 'A' ball and his overall strike zone command which has improved greatly."
A crew chief review took place In the aftermath of Souza's fifth-inning double to left that appeared to have an altered flight. After a delay of 1 minute 17 seconds, the ruling came back that the call on the field would stand.
Reds: Following an off day Thursday, the Reds head to Washington for the first of three games vs. the Nationals at 7:05 p.m. ET. Luis Castillo will be called up from Double-A Pensacola to make his Major League debut. In his 14 starts for Pensacola, Castillo is 4-4 with a 2.58 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.
Rays:Chris Archer will match up against the Orioles to open a three-game set Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET in St. Petersburg. Baltimore has had the righty's number over the years, as Archer owns a 4.69 ERA and 3-7 record in 14 career games against the Orioles.
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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.