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Pirates fall to Rays 10-3 despite Bryan Reynolds extending hit streak

Pittsburgh Pirates' Bryan Reynolds, right, is greeted by third base coach Mike Rabelo after hitting a solo home run off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Chris Devenski during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH — Josh Lowe homered twice, including a three-run blast in the sixth that broke open a close game, and the Tampa Bay Rays breezed past the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-3 on Friday night.

Lowe hit a solo shot to right off Luis Ortiz in the third inning and went deep again with two aboard in the sixth to give the Rays a rare breather amid a string of tight finishes.

Tampa Bay entered Friday having had each of its previous four games decided in the final at-bat. There was no drama this time thanks to the first multi-homer game of Lowe’s career.

“That’s the goal right, to have a stress-free win,” Lowe said.

Lowe has endured two stints on the injured list this season due to a right oblique strain. Getting back into a rhythm has been difficult, though he believes he’s starting to find himself in the batter’s box.

He certainly looked comfortable when he sent an Ortiz pitch to a place few left-handed batters reach at PNC Park. Lowe’s second homer crashed into the bleachers just to the left of the 410-foot notch in left-center.

“You know (Lowe is) trying to get that timing,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “And it certainly looked like he got it today … to go (opposite field) here is really, really impressive.”

Ben Rortvedt added three hits, including a three-run homer in the ninth.

Jose Siri also had three hits and made a pair of spectacular catches in center. He chased down a line drive to left-center by Nick Gonzales leading off the second and ended the game by robbing Jack Suwinski of extra bases with a leaping grab at the wall.

“I think (Siri) is amazing teammates right now with how consistent his play is, how good he is out in the outfield and look, the quality of his at bats have completely turned around,” Cash said.

Yandy Díaz singled twice to extend his hitting streak to 14 games and his on-base streak to a career-best 23 games as the Rays finished with a season-high 17 hits.

Colin Poche (1-1) helped Tampa escape a bases-loaded jam in the fourth by getting Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Bryan Reynolds hit his 11th homer of the season to push his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games. The left fielder is hitting .342 in June. Suwinski had an RBI double for Pittsburgh and Ke’Bryan Hayes added an RBI single.

The Pirates, still down a man in the starting rotation because of injuries to Martin Perez, Quinn Priester and Marco Gonzales, turned to their bullpen. The strategy has worked of late but not on the first night of a rare visit to Pittsburgh by Tampa Bay.

Carmen Mlodzinski (1-3) gave up a run in the first 1 2/3 innings before giving way to Ortiz. The right-hander who had hoped to make the starting rotation out of spring training has thrived in a long relief role this season but struggled on a steamy night with temperatures in the mid-90s.

Tampa touched Ortiz for six runs on 10 hits in four innings. He failed to retire the Rays in order once and things got out of hand in the sixth.

The loss came on a day Pirates chairman Bob Nutting said he’s given general manager Ben Cherington the green light to seek trades that will help an offense that has kept the Pirates from emerging from a crowded if underwhelming NL Central pack.

Pittsburgh managed just five hits and only two over the final five innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: C Joey Bart (thumb) served as the designated hitter for Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday night. Bart will catch for Perez (left groin) on Saturday when Perez makes a rehab start. … Utility player Ji Hwan Bae (right wrist) also made a rehab appearance for Indianapolis on Friday. … C Henry Davis (concussion) is still showing some concussion-like symptoms and has yet to return to “high-exertion activities,” according to Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk.

UP NEXT

Tampa Bay’s Zach Eflin (3-4, 4.12 ERA) starts against promising Pittsburgh rookie Jared Jones (4-6, 3.76) on Saturday.

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