ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Mike Zunino and Brett Phillips homered as the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays won for the 15th time in 16 games, topping the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 on Sunday. The Rays have won four consecutive games, including a two-game sweep over Philadelphia, since Kansas City stopped their 11-game win streak on Tuesday.
“There’s a lot of things going our way,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “We’d like to think we’re creating some of those things. Guys are taking advantage of opportunities whether it’s at the plate, off the mound or defensively. Anytime you go on a run like this team has been on, you’ve got to do a lot of things right.”READ MORE: More Than 40 Restaurants Dishing Up Delicious Deals During Burlington County Restaurant Week
Philadelphia, losers of eight of 11, got a run-scoring double from Brad Miller. The Phillies loaded the bases with two out in the ninth against Diego Castillo, but Odúbel Herrera flew out to deep center field.
Zunino hit his 12th homer with two out in the second, a two-run drive off Zach Eflin (2-5). Leadoff hitter Austin Meadows walked after third baseman Alec Bohm, who was part of a defensive shift, overran and failed to catch a foul ball near the coach’s box.
“I think he was on a dead sprint,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “This is a tough place to pick up popups if you’re not here a lot. He just overran it, probably because you’re in a shift and you’re so far away. It’s a play that he’s capable of making.”
Zunino has four homers over his last eight games.
Celebrating his 27th birthday, Phillips hit a solo shot during Tampa Bay’s two-run fifth.
“Obviously to homer on my birthday, it doesn’t get any better than that other than the win,” Phillips said.
J.T. Realmuto hit a sacrifice fly and Miller had an RBI double off Andrew Kittredge in the sixth that got the Phillies within 4-2. Kittredge replaced Josh Fleming (5-3) with two on and one out.
Fleming entered with two out in the first, following opener Collin McHugh. The lefty gave up two runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Tampa Bay went up 6-2 in the seventh when Joey Wendle hit an RBI single, and a second run scored on Miller’s throwing error from right field.
“We gave them runs,” Girardi said. “It changes the complexion of the game.”READ MORE: 'An Unbelievable Friend': Football Coach Remembers 12-Year-Old Tyler Norton, Killed In Pottstown House Fire
Eflin lost his season-opening stretch of 10 consecutive starts of six or more innings and two or fewer walks. The right-hander permitted four runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings in his fourth straight loss. He struck out five and walked one.
QUITE THE MONTH
Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler made six starts in May and had 57 strikeouts and just five walks. According to STATS LLC, Wheeler is only the 13th pitcher since 1901 to strike out 57 or more batters in a month and allow five walks or fewer. The others include Gerrit Cole (April 2021), Jacob deGrom (April 2021), Max Scherzer (June 2019), Gaylord Perry (August 1975), Sandy Koufax (September 1963), Walter Johnson (September 1913) and Christy Mathewson (September 1908).
Philadelphia right-hander Connor Brogdon has made three career appearances against the Rays, facing 13 batters and striking out 10. He struck out four but allowed one run and one hit in 1 2/3 innings on Sunday.
Phillies: OF Roman Quinn was placed on the 60-day IL with a left Achilles tendon injury. He is expected to miss the rest of the season. “From the examination there wasn’t anything that told us he’d be back,” Girardi said. He was hurt running the bases on Saturday.
Rays: RHP Luis Patiño (right middle finger laceration) was reinstated from the 10-day IL and optioned to Triple-A Durham.
Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (2-0) will go against Cincinnati LHP Wade Miley (4-4) on Monday.MORE NEWS: Open For Business: Bussinger Trains Uses Pandemic To Take On New Direction
Rays: LHP Rich Hill (3-2) and New York RHP Jameson Taillon (1-3) are Monday’s scheduled starters in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium. The 41-year-old Hill is 2-2 with a 1.26 ERA over his last six starts.