Baseball / MLB

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo comes up with key hit in Rays' win over Braves

AP, KYODO

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo hit a two-run single during Tampa Bay's five-run third inning, and the Rays beat the Atlanta Braves 5-2 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight win.

Yonny Chirinos pitched four effective innings for Tampa Bay after missing part of summer camp following a positive coronavirus test. He allowed one run and four hits.

The Rays loaded the bases in the third on three walks, and then chased Kyle Wright (0-1) with three consecutive two-out hits.

After Tsutsugo delivered, Jose Martinez and Joey Wendle added run-scoring singles. Tampa Bay went up 5-1 when Martinez scored on a wild pitch by Josh Tomlin.

"We're on a good winning streak,” Tsutsugo said through a translator. "I'm feeling very productive these days.”

Tsutsugo, a MLB rookie after a standout career with the Yokohama BayStars, has driven in five runs in the Rays' first five games.

"They're all pitchers I've never faced before so I just have to stand at the plate and rely on past experience," he said.

Tsutsugo went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for his first multi-hit game in the majors. The 28-year-old Japanese slugger signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Rays in December via the posting system.

Wright was solid early, then the game got away from him.

"That’s the most frustrating thing about it," Wright said. "In those first two innings, I don’t think I threw any more than five balls. Those first two innings I was just really athletic and trusted what I’d been working on so much and just attacked the hitters. The third inning I felt I still did that but once those runners got on base, I kind of sped up a little bit and lost (my) grip."

"I don’t want to make excuses, first off," Wright added. "I usually lick my fingers, can’t lick my fingers, but it’s the rules, figure it out. I’ve got to do a better job of doing that. I’ve had some issues in the past of finding a grip, but it’s time to get going, time to figure it out. I think it’s a good learning experience for me.”

Atlanta loaded the bases with no outs in the top of third but scored just one run on Marcell Ozuna’s two-out single.

"I think the momentum was started with the way we got through the top of the third,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "That's kind of the ballgame.”

Ozzie Albies singled in a run in the seventh for the Braves. Wright, the fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft, allowed five runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings in his fifth career big league start.

"We’re going to keep running him out there,” manager Brian Snitker said. "You saw his stuff. He just needs to pitch. The only way he’s going to learn is to go out there at this level and pitch. You see that stuff the first two innings, it’s really, really good.”

Pete Fairbanks (1-0) struck out three, Ronald Acuna Jr, Albies and Freddie Freeman, during a perfect fifth to get the win. Oliver Drake, the fifth Tampa Bay reliever, worked the ninth for his second save.

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