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Masahiro Tanaka tagged with fourth loss as Rays beat Yankees

Kyodo, AP

Masahiro Tanaka overcame a rough start Thursday to throw six innings of two-run ball but picked up the loss as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 3-1.

Tanaka (9-4) looked set for an early shower after allowing four consecutive hits and two runs against his first four batters, but the 29-year-old right-hander pulled things together and was solid the rest of the way.

“I adjusted my direction and plan of attack after the second inning. I told myself I needed to be more aggressive,” Tanaka said.

Tanaka finished with six strikeouts and no walks, while allowing nine hits. He did not get any help from his offense, however, with the Yankees unable to score until the bottom of the eighth, when Giancarlo Stanton doubled to bring home Aaron Hicks.

Blake Snell (14-5) got the win after striking out six and allowing a pair of hits over five innings.

Joey Wendle and Mallex Smith scored for the visitors in the first inning, while Smith added the Rays’ third run in the top of the eighth on a sacrifice bunt by Jake Bauers.

The loss leaves the second-place Yankees 10½ games behind the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox. They hold a three-game advantage over the Oakland Athletics in the AL wild card race.

Tampa Bay reliever Adam Kolarek escaped a critical jam in the ninth inning for his first career save.

Kolarek got his moment in the Bronx spotlight after Sergio Romo struggled in the ninth. Romo allowed consecutive singles to Didi Gregorius and Gleyber Torres — Torres’ bloop ended his 0-for-17 skid — then walked Neil Walker on four pitches.

Rays manager Kevin Cash then called for the side-arming Kolarek.

Lefty-hitting Greg Bird popped out in foul territory on his first pitch, and then the 29-year-old Kolarek — who entered with a 6.00 ERA — struck out veterans Brett Gardner and Austin Romine. Romine chased a high fastball clocked at 153 kph.

It was the first time Kolarek had faced bases loaded with no outs in his big league career. He escaped in nine pitches.

“Getting Bird out on that first pitch was huge,” Kolarek said. “Because once you get one out, you’re like, ‘OK, I’m one pitch away.’ To get the strikeouts was just a little bit more special.”

Rangers 8, Angels 6

In Arlington, Texas, Shohei Ohtani drove in one run and scored another for Los Angeles in a loss to the Rangers.

Ohtani hit a ground-ball single off Rangers starter Ariel Jurado in the top of the first, bringing home David Fletcher and moving Justin Upton to second.

The rookie then scored on a double by the next batter, Francisco Arcia. Ohtani struck out in his two other at-bats.

Jurickson Profar started an especially rare triple play and homered to help the Rangers rally from an early five-run deficit.

Texas turned the sixth triple play in franchise history in the fourth. With the bases loaded, David Fletcher hit a low liner toward third base that Profar picked on a short hop. Playing near the bag, Profar stepped on third to force out Eric Young Jr. and then tagged Taylor Ward, who had stumbled off the base into foul territory. Profar then threw to Odor, and the second baseman tagged Kole Calhoun between first and second.

It was the majors’ first triple play without retiring the batter since June 3, 1912, when the Brooklyn Dodgers turned the trick against the Cincinnati Reds.

Rockies 5, Braves 3

In Atlanta, Colorado snapped Ronald Acuna Jr.’s home run streak and the Braves’ five-game winning streak, rallying for three unearned runs in the ninth inning.

One night after being plunked in the left arm by Miami’s Jose Urena, Acuna was back in the lineup looking to extend his homer streak to six games. Wearing a red protective guard, the 20-year-old slugger received a standing ovation his first time up and lined the second pitch — one more than he saw the previous game — into center field for a single, extending his hitting streak to nine games.

That was the highlight of his night. Acuna finished 1-for-4, lining out to right in the eighth in his last chance to become the first player in Braves franchise history to homer in six straight games.

Nationals 5, Cardinals 4

In St. Louis, Bryce Harper had three hits and drove in three runs, and a beleaguered bullpen held on as Washington snapped a four-game losing streak.

Mets 24, Phillies 4 (1st)

Phillies 9, Mets 6 (2nd)

In Philadelphia, Rhys Hoskins hit a three-run homer, Scott Kingery had a solo shot and the Phillies beat New York to split their doubleheader.

In the first game, Jose Bautista hit a grand slam and had a career-high seven RBIs as the Mets set a franchise record for runs, prompting the Phillies to use two position players to pitch the final three innings.

In the opener, Corey Oswalt (2-2) allowed four solo homers in six innings, Amed Rosario hit a leadoff homer and had three RBIs and the Mets took advantage of four errors to score 11 unearned runs.

Cubs 1, Pirates 0

In Pittsburgh, Jon Lester pitched six innings to win for the first time in just over a month and Ian Happ homered as Chicago edged the Pirates.

Twins 15, Tigers 8

In Minneapolis, Logan Forsythe had a career-high five hits and Jorge Polanco drove in four runs as Minnesota outslugged Detroit.

Diamondbacks 5, Padres 1

In San Diego, Clay Buchholz pitched a five-hitter, David Peralta hit a three-run homer and Arizona defeated the Padres in the opener of a four-game series.

Royals 6, Blue Jays 2

In Kansas City, Lucas Duda homered, Rosell Herrera had three hits and the Royals beat Toronto after a long rain delay to split their four-game series.