By MATT CARLSON
CHICAGO (AP) — Randy Arozarena doubled twice and finished with three hits as the Tampa Bay Rays topped the Chicago White Sox 9-3 on Sunday to stop a four-game slide.
Manuel Margot also had three hits for the Rays, including a double. Kevin Kiermaier and Francisco Mejia each drove in two runs. Wander Franco added an RBI double as Tampa Bay pulled away with a four-run eighth inning.
The Rays broke out of a funk at the plate after scoring only nine runs during the losing streak.
“I think the team did very well today overall," Arozarena, the 2021 AL Rookie of the Year, said through a translator. ”I think the pitching did what they need to do and the offense did what we needed to."
Margot, Kiermaier and Yandy Diaz had RBIs in a four-run first when the Rays jumped on shaky Chicago starter Vince Velasquez without hitting the ball hard.
“Having the offense being a little quiet lately, we needed to find a way to put some runs on the board,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Look, we didn't do it by knocking the cover off the ball, but we'll take it.”
J.P. Feyereisen opened for Tampa Bay, then was followed by Chris Mazza, Jalen Beeks, Ryan Thompson and Tommy Romero as the defending AL East champions patched together an unusual three-hitter that included five walks — plus a hit batter and passed ball that scored Chicago’s first two runs.
Feyereisen was perfect through the first two innings, striking out three, in his first start as a pro. Cash used an opener for the first time this season.
Beeks and Thompson also allowed no one to reach base.
Mazza (1-0), the second Tampa Bay pitcher, walked five and permitted two hits and two runs in 2 1/3 innings. The right-hander threw 62 pitches, only 31 strikes.
“Strike throwing was a little challenging for him today,” Cash said, “but he made some big pitches when he needed to.”
Gavin Sheets hit a solo homer off Romero in the ninth. Adam Engel singled, walked, stole two bases and scored a run for the White Sox.
The Rays sent 10 batters to the plate in the first and a took a 4-0 lead on three soft singles, three walks and an error by Velasquez (0-1). The right-hander threw 20 of 35 pitches for strikes in the inning, then settled down to go 4 2/3 innings.
“That was the highlight of the day,” Chicago manager Tony La Russa said. “He was really upset. He’s a very conscientious guy, and he gutted it out. He gave us a great chance but we couldn’t do enough offensively.”
Velasquez walked Ji-Man Choi with the bases loaded to force in Tampa Bay’s first run.
Velasquez gloved Josh Lowe’s comebacker but dropped the ball, allowing a second run to score. Margot’s bloop single made it 3-0, and Kiermaier walked to force in another run.
The White Sox got on the board in the fourth when Mazza hit Sheets with a pitch with the bases loaded.
The White Sox loaded the bases against Mazza again with one out in the fifth but again managed only one run. Engel scored from third on a passed ball after Beeks relieved, cutting it to 4-2.
The Rays scored four runs off Matt Foster and Anderson Severino in the eighth to seal it.
Lowe made a leaping catch at the left-center wall on Tim Anderson’s drive in the bottom of the first. It might have been the hardest-hit ball of the game.
“It was kind of a weird play,” the 6-foot-4 Lowe said. “The wind was blowing in pretty hard. I didn't think it was going that far. Then I just kept going back and made an athletic play at the fence.”
ON HIS WAY
RHP Javy Guerra, acquired by the Rays from the Padres for cash on Saturday, is expected to join the team Monday.
Rays: Cash said left-handed starter Ryan Yarbrough (left groin tightness) threw from about 150 feet and should work off a mound in the next couple of days.
White Sox: La Russa said RHP Joe Kelly (right biceps nerve injury) is progressing in his rehab at the team’s training facility in Arizona. La Russa said the 32-year-old Kelly is “throwing in the mid-90s (mph) with no discomfort,” but has yet to face hitters and there’s no timetable for his return.
Rays: LHP Shane McClanahan (0-1, 3.00 ERA) faces Cubs RHP Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 7.00) on Monday night as the Rays move across town to Wrigley Field for three games.
White Sox: Two former AL Cy Young Award winners square off when LHP Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 5.40) takes the mound against Guardians ace Shane Bieber (0-0, 2.70) in Cleveland on Monday night. The teams play a four-games series.
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