Kiermaier homers, Ramirez pitches Rays past Braves 2-0
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Kevin Kiermaier's first home run in more than two months stood out like a sore thumb.
Kiermaier hit a two-run shot in the seventh inning to back Erasmo Ramirez's efficient outing, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Atlanta Braves 2-0 Tuesday night.
The timely drive came in Kiermaier's first full game since he injured his right thumb on a slide Saturday. To lessen the discomfort, he used a bat with a thinner handle and put extra padding in his batting glove.
''It's still a little inflamed in there. That tendon around my thumb is still a little sore,'' Kiermaier said. ''They say if you can tolerate the pain you can play, and that's all I need to hear. You feel a little better throughout the game.''
Ramirez pitched into the eighth inning for his first win in a month and the Rays won their third straight.
Kiermaier's homer came off Williams Perez one out after Asdrubal Cabrera's infield single. It was his fifth homer of the season and first since June 3.
''It was a bad pitch, bad location,'' Perez said. ''I threw it before and the guy didn't swing good. So he was waiting for that one after the first one.''
Perez (4-3) gave up four hits in his first career complete game. In his third start since coming off the disabled list, he walked four and struck out one.
Ramirez (9-4) won for the first time in five starts since July 10. He gave up five hits and no walks, needing only 70 pitches to get through seven-plus innings.
''I just feel like everything is working,'' said Ramirez, who has allowed one earned run or none in 12 of his 18 starts. ''It's been great to have that feeling.''
Xavier Cedeno got two outs for his first save.
The Braves, who have lost 20 of 29 since July 8, nearly scored in the first inning on Nick Markakis' double. Cameron Maybin, aboard on a single, was out at the plate on a relay throw by second baseman Logan Forsythe.
After consecutive singles by Adonis Garcia and Andrelton Simmons in the second, Ramirez retired 16 straight before Garcia bounced a single up the middle leading off the eighth. Brandon Gomes came on and pitched 1 1-3 hitless innings.
''(Ramirez) had definitely done his job at that point,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash explained. ''You've got the tying run to the plate, the guy (Ramirez) had had a ton of success - we just think it's time to give it over to the bullpen. That's the way we've gone about it this year and we'll continue to do that.''
Markakis had two hits to raise his interleague batting average to .339, best among all players with 150 or more interleague at-bats.
Cabrera had two of the Rays' four hits. It was his seventh multihit game in his last eight, giving the shortstop a .478 batting average since coming off the disabled list July 28.
Braves: Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Simmons has had no issues with his right thumb since the shortstop returned Saturday after missing six games with a sprain.
Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (torn left labrum) pitched four innings in his fourth rehab start at Triple-A Durham. ... OF Desmond Jennings (left knee bursitis) went 1 for 2 with a walk for Class A Charlotte in the first of two scheduled rehab games. After that, he might be activated for the first time since April 25.
Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi (1.40 ERA in eight starts at home) will oppose Matt Wisler (5.93 ERA in five road starts) on Wednesday night in the last of four games between the teams this season.