Brandon Lowe hits a game-ending homer as the Rays rally past the slumping Cubs 5-2

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Brandon Lowe capped Tampa Bay’s four-run ninth inning with a three-run homer, lifting the Rays to a 5-2 victory over the struggling Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.

Richie Palacios started the rally with a leadoff double against Héctor Neris (6-1). Ben Rortvedt reached on a one-out walk before José Caballero’s RBI single tied it at 2.

Yandy Díaz then struck out swinging before Lowe drove a full-count splitter deep to right-center for his third homer of the season.

“You understand what a guy’s got out on the mound ... a very good splitter.” Lowe said. “Sit it and hope that he leaves one up, and thankfully kind left one elevated there.”

It was Neris’ third blown save in 12 chances.

“Today was a day he fell behind (in the count),” Chicago manager Craig Counsell said.

Chris Devenski (2-1) worked a scoreless ninth for the win.

The Rays were swept in a four-game series against Baltimore that concluded Monday night. Tampa Bay scored just seven times in the set.

“It was awesome, and it’s exactly what we needed with what we’ve been going through the past week,” Rays starter Zach Eflin said. “It was a great way to fire everyone up.”

“We needed a win,” Rays manager Kevin Cash added.

Chicago wasted a sharp performance by Jameson Taillon, who pitched six scoreless innings of four-hit ball. The Cubs, who have dropped 13 of 18 overall, had 10 hits, but they went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

“We had a bunch of singles today, really,” Counsell said “We had some balls hit well kind of to the wall and not enough."

Christopher Morel put Chicago in front 1-0 with his 13th homer in the fourth off Eflin.

Garrett Cleavinger replaced Eflin with two on and two outs in the sixth and gave up a first-pitch RBI single to pinch-hitter David Bote.

Tampa Bay got on the board in the seventh when Palacios scored on Hayden Wesneski’s wild pitch.

Palacios walked after it first appeared that he popped out on the first pitch of the at-bat, but Counsell said play had been stopped by third base umpire Ben May for a timeout.

Elfin surrendered seven hits in his second start after missing 2 1/2 weeks with lower-back inflammation.

This is just the third series the Cubs have played at Tampa Bay. The others were in 2008 and 2017.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: RHP Ben Brown (neck strain) was placed on the 15-day injured list. He returned to Chicago for tests.

Rays: LF Randy Arozarena was scratched with right hamstring tightness, but he grounded out as a pinch hitter in the seventh. He did not stay in the game after his at-bat. The 2023 AL All-Star is hitting just .175 with eight homers and 20 RBIs this season. Cash said Arozarena had an MRI and is expected to be OK.

UP NEXT

Cubs RHP Javier Assad (4-2, 2.74 ERA) and Rays RHP Aaron Civale (2-5, 5.51 ERA) are Wednesday night’s starters.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB