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Rays breeze past Pirates on Josh Lowe’s two homers; Bryan Reynolds extends hitting streak

Tampa Bay Rays' Josh Lowe celebrates as he returns to the dugout after hitting a three-run home run off Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Luis L. Ortiz during the sixth inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Friday, June 21. It was Lowe's second home run of the game. Associated Press

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 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.

Ben Rortvedt added three hits, including a three-run homer in the ninth. Jose Siri also had three hits. Yandy Díaz singled twice to extend his hitting streak to 13 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. Jack 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 — Pittsburgh won each of its last two bullpen games — but not on the first night of a rare visit to PNC Park 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 not against the Rays.

Tampa touched Ortiz for six runs on 10 hits in four innings. Ortiz failed to retire the Rays in order once, and things got out of hand in the sixth. Taylor Walls and Díaz singled to start the inning, and three batters later the left-handed Lowe flicked an Ortiz offering into the bleachers in left-center field, the deepest part of the ballpark.

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 against the Rays and only two over the final five innings.

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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