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Rays beat Indians 4-0 in matchup of playoff contenders

August 31, 2019
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Tampa Bay Rays' Jesus Aguilar hits a three-run home run against the Cleveland Indians during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
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Tampa Bay Rays' Jesus Aguilar hits a three-run home run against the Cleveland Indians during the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Austin Pruitt helped a taxed Tampa Bay bullpen, and the Rays beat Cleveland’s 12-game winner Shane Bieber in his first start in two years.

Pruitt and three relievers combined on a five-hitter, Jesus Aguilar had a three-run homer during a four-run seventh inning and the Rays beat the Indians 4-0 in a matchup of playoff contenders Friday night.

“I was very pleased,” Pruitt said. “They’re going after one of the spots that we’re trying to get.”

Pruitt allowed four hits and struck out six over 5 1/3 innings in his first start since Aug, 28, 2017. Oliver Drake (3-1) gave up one hit in 1 2/3 innings before Colin Poche and Andrew Kittredge each worked an inning.

“He was outstanding for us,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Pruitt. “Austin had everything going.”

Austin Meadows singled off Bieber (12-7) leading off the seventh and went to third on a base hit by Travis d’Arnaud. One out later, Avisail Garcia hit an RBI single that ended Bieber’s night. Aguilar made it 4-0 with his three-run blast off Adam Cimber.

“It was a great feeling,” Aguilar said. “I think this is the most important series of the year. We’ve got to show what we’ve got.”

Tampa Bay stayed one game behind Oakland in the race for the second AL wild card. The Athletics beat the AL East-leading New York Yankees 8-2.

The Indians had their lead over the Athletics drop to a half-game for the first AL wild card, and trailed AL Central-leading Minnesota by 4 ½ games.

The Twins beat Detroit 13-5.

Bieber gave up three runs and six hits, and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings.

“I thought he pitched his heart out and it’s a shame he ended up getting the loss because he pitched great,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Cleveland left fielder Tyler Naquin left with a sprained right knee after running full speed into the low wall in the corner after making an outstanding catch to take away a potential two-run, two-out homer by Joey Wendle in the fifth.

“It’s a frustrating game all-around tonight for all of us, but I’m just thinking about him and getting him back as soon as possible,” said Bieber, the All-Star Game MVP.

Naquin was scheduled to undergo an MRI late Friday night.

“Obviously it didn’t look good and we’re very concerned, but we’ll wait until we get the results,” Francona said.

Aguilar also made a stellar play at first base, diving to the right to grab Yu Chang’s two-out grounder with runners on second and third in the third.

STORM WATCH

Hurricane Dorian is not expected to affect the three-game series, but Sunday’s series finale may be moved up an hour to 12:10 p.m.

IN MEMORY

There was a moment of silence before game for original Rays owner Vince Naimoli and the family of Tampa Bay Double-A pitcher Blake Bivens. Naimoli died last Sunday. Bivens’ wife, 1-year-old son and mother-in-law were slain Tuesday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since late May when he was diagnosed with leukemia, rejoined the team and will be reinstated from the 60-day injured list Sunday. ... RHP Dan Otero (right shoulder inflammation) will also return Sunday.

Rays: AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (left elbow bone chip surgery) threw 15 fastballs in his first bullpen session and is “very confident” of returning before the season ends. ... CF Kevin Kiermaier (bruised left ribs) missed his fifth straight game. ... RHP Tyler Glasnow, 6-1 before being sidelined in mid-May by a right forearm strain, walked one in a hitless inning during his first rehab start with Triple-A Durham.

UP NEXT

Indians RHP Zach Plesac (7-4) will start Saturday. Rays LHP Jalen Beeks (5-3) is expected to start or follow an opener.

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