St. Petersburg, FL – Luke Scott went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a 4-3 comeback win over the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field.
Scott belted a two-run homer in the fifth inning and delivered a tie-breaking RBI single in the sixth as Tampa Bay overcame an early 3-0 deficit and bounced back from a 2-1 loss in Friday's opener of this three-game series.
Wil Myers added a pair of hits and scored twice to help the Rays earn their ninth victory in 10 games, while Roberto Hernandez settled down after being hit hard in the first inning and turned in a solid effort on the mound.
Hernandez (5-10) allowed three runs in the opening frame but blanked the Astros over the duration of his six-inning outing, with three Tampa Bay relievers protecting the one-run lead the rest of the way.
Lucas Harrell (5-10) was hung with the loss after permitting the deciding run in 1 1/3 innings in relief of Dallas Keuchel, who surrendered three runs on six hits through the initial 5 1/3 frames.
Brett Wallace had a two-run homer for Houston and Jason Castro finished 2- for-4 in the setback, the Astros' 11th in 14 games.
Keuchel had stifled the Rays through the game's first four innings, having yielded just a pair of singles over that stretch while working with a 3-0 lead. However, Myers opened Tampa's half of the fifth with a base hit before Scott hammered a spinning slider into the seats in right to finally get the home team on the board and extend his hitting streak to nine games.
"He's really recognizing the strike zone better, that's the biggest difference I see," said Rays manager Joe Maddon of Scott's recent success. "He's hitting the ball extremely hard. The home run was obviously huge tonight."
Yunel Escobar stroked a two-out double later in the frame and stole second prior to Desmond Jennings' perfectly placed bunt single down the first-base line that brought in the tying run.
Scott came through again in his next at-bat to put the Rays ahead, not long after Astros manager Bo Porter removed Keuchel in favor of Harrell despite the Houston starter retiring the first batter of the bottom of the sixth.
The move backfired, as Myers reached Harrell for a two-out single and stole second prior to Scott dropping in a base hit to right that sent the rookie home for a 4-3 edge.
"I saw that as an opportunity for [Harrell] not only to get in the game at a good point of their lineup, facing two of their better righties, but also an opportunity to give us extended innings the rest of the game," explained Porter of the decision.
The Rays bullpen made the lead stand, as Jake McGee and Joel Peralta each tossed a perfect inning before Fernando Rodney fanned two during a 1-2-3 ninth to nail down his 13th consecutive successful save opportunity.
Hernandez appeared headed towards an 11th loss of the season after being roughed up in the opening inning. Two of the first three Houston batters recorded hits, including a double by Castro that placed two in scoring position in front of J.D. Martinez's RBI groundout. Wallace then walloped a 1-0 pitch deep into the right-field stands to quickly stake the Astros to a 3-0 advantage.
The Houston bats went silent thereafter, however, with Hernandez giving up just a pair of singles and a walk over his final five innings until turning the game over to McGee in the seventh.
"He obviously got better; I thought his last inning might have been his best," said Maddon of Hernandez. "He was just [more] assertive. He did not want to come out of the game, I know that."
Hernandez's performance extended the Rays' club-record streak of consecutive quality starts to 14 games, tied with Detroit (May 30-June 14) for the longest such run in the majors this season ... The Astros announced prior to the game that the team has signed second baseman Jose Altuve to a four-year extension that includes team options for 2018 and 2019 ... Houston outfielder Justin Maxwell, activated off the 7-day concussion DL after Friday's matchup, went 1- for-3 with a double in his first action since June 28 ... Astros designated hitter Carlos Pena, the Rays' all-time leader in home runs (86), played his first game at Tropicana Field since leaving Tampa Bay and signing with Houston during the offseason. Pena, who batted leadoff for the first time this year and finished 1-for-3, was not in the lineup on Friday ... Thirteen of Keuchel's 16 outs registered came on ground balls.