By MARK DIDTLER
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Yoshi Tsutsugo hit a two-run single during Tampa Bay’s five-run third inning, and the Rays beat the Atlanta Braves 5-2 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight win.
Yonny Chirinos pitched four effective innings for Tampa Bay after missing part of summer camp following a positive coronavirus test. He allowed one run and four hits.
The Rays loaded the bases in the third on three walks, and then chased Kyle Wright (0-1) with three consecutive two-out hits.
“That’s the most frustrating thing about it,” Wright said. “In those first two innings, I don’t think I threw any more than five balls. Those first two innings I was just really athletic and trusted what I’d been working on so much and just attacked the hitters. The third inning I felt I still did that but once those runners got on base, I kind of sped up a little bit and lost (my) grip.”
“I don’t want to make excuses, first off,” Wright added. “I usually lick my fingers, can’t lick my fingers, but it’s the rules, figure it out. I’ve got to do a better job of doing that. I’ve had some issues in the past of finding a grip, but it’s time to get going, time to figure it out. I think it’s a good learning experience for me.”
After Tsutsugo delivered, Jose Martinez and Joey Wendle added run-scoring singles. Tampa Bay went up 5-1 when Martinez scored on a wild pitch by Josh Tomlin.
“We’re on a good winning streak,” Tsutsugo said through a translator. “I’m feeling very productive these days.”
Tsutsugo, a big league rookie after a standout career with Yokohama in Japan, has driven in five runs in the Rays’ first five games.
Atlanta loaded the bases with no outs in the top of third but scored just one run on Marcell Ozuna’s two-out single.
“I think the momentum was started with the way we got through the top of the third,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “That’s kind of the ballgame.”
Ozzie Albies singled in a run in the seventh for the Braves. Wright, the fifth overall pick in the 2017 draft, allowed five runs and four hits in 2 2/3 innings in his fifth career big league start.
“We’re going to keep running him out there,” manager Brian Snitker said. “You saw his stuff. He just needs to pitch. The only way he’s going to learn is to go out there at this level and pitch. You see that stuff the first two innings, it’s really, really good.”
Pete Fairbanks (1-0) struck out three, Ronald Acuna Jr, Albies and Freddie Freeman, during a perfect fifth to get the win. Oliver Drake, the fifth Tampa Bay reliever, worked the ninth for his second save.
Atlanta catcher Alex Jackson doubled off Chirinos in the second for his first major league hit.
Braves: Snitker said Cs Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers (bad cold symptoms) worked out in Georgia and could return within the next few days. Both have had multiple negative coronavirus tests.
Rays: OF Austin Meadows (positive coronavirus test) got four at-bats in a simulated game at the team’s alternate training site. … OF Randy Arozarena (positive coronavirus test) has been cleared for baseball activities. … 1B Ji-Man Choi left with right shoulder soreness.
The Rays and Braves shift to Atlanta for a two-game series. Tampa Bay RHP Charlie Morton (0-1) and Atlanta RHP Mike Soroka (0-0) are the scheduled starters for the Braves’ home opener on Wednesday night.