ST. PETERSBURG, Fla, (AP) — Wander Franco hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth and the wild-card-leading Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cleveland Guardians 9-8 after a bullpen meltdown in the top of the inning Friday night.
Franco homered to right off Nick Sandlin (5-5).
Cleveland pulled even at 8 in the ninth, with all three runs crossing the plate on wild pitches.
The Guardians loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of walks and a hit batter by closer Pete Fairbanks. The right-hander struck out Oscar Gonzalez, but had a run-scoring wild pitch before striking out Brayan Rocchio.
Fairbanks allowed another run to cross the plate with another wild pitch and walked Bo Naylor before being replaced by Robert Stephenson (2-4), who threw the third wild pitch of the inning to allow the tying run to score.
Isaac Paredes put the Rays up 5-4 on his drive in the sixth that ended Cleveland starter Xzavion Curry’s night.
The Rays added three more runs in the seventh to go ahead 8-4 after Daniel Norris loaded the bases on three walks with one out. Two runs scored when second baseman Andrés Giménez was charged with an error for misplaying a potential inning-ending double-play grounder by Randy Arozarena.
Myles Straw hit his first homer since Aug. 26, 2021, off Jason Adam in the eighth for the Guardians.
Tampa Bay’s Aaron Civale lasted five innings, allowing two runs and seven hits against his former team. The right-hander, acquired from Cleveland on July 30th. faced jams in all of his innings but held the Guardians to 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Civale lost his Rays debut last Saturday at Detroit after giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Curry gave up five runs and six hits over five-plus innings in his fifth start and 30th appearance this season,
Straw and Giménez had RBI singles off Jake Diekman as the Guardians grabbled a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth.
Curry retired his first seven batters before the Rays scored three times in the third to go up 3-1. Yandy Díaz had an RBI double and Wander Franco drove in two with a single.
Steven Kwan got Cleveland got to 3-2 with a fourth-inning triple. The Guardians took a 1-0 lead on Ramón Laureano’s third-inning RBI single.
Guardians: RHP Cal Quantrill (right shoulder inflammation) will make his next minor league start with Double-A Akron on Tuesday. … 1B Josh Naylor (oblique strain) has resumed taking grounders. … INF Tyler Freeman (right shoulder strain) could be return on Tuesday.
Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (back spasms) had his scheduled start Saturday pushed back to Monday. He played catch for 11 minutes and threw 14 pitches off a bullpen mound.
Guardians RHP Gavin Williams (1-3) is set to start Saturday. The Rays have not announced a replacement for Glasnow.