Yandy Díaz sparks offense as Rays earn 3-1 win over Skenes, Pirates

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Yandy Díaz hit a home run off the first pitch from Paul Skenes on Sunday before leading off a two-run eighth inning with a single, sparking a 3-1 win for the Tampa Bay Rays over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Díaz opened the first inning by driving Skenes’ near 100 mph first-pitch fastball off the right-field foul pole. He was 3-for-4 with two hits off Skenes, stretching his hit streak to 16 games.

“There's no secret that he's a good pitcher," Díaz said. "You don't want to battle too many pitches or see too many pitches in your count. So, that's why I went for the first pitch.”

Colin Holderman (3-1) replaced Skenes for the eighth, giving up the single to Díaz followed by another from Josh Lowe. José Caballero, running for Díaz, scored on Randy Arozarena’s sacrifice fly to put the Rays ahead 2-1 before Richie Palacios added another run with an RBI single.

“Just pass the baton on to the next person,” Lowe said. “That was a big inning for us.”

Kevin Kelly (2-0) got the final two outs of the seventh for the Rays, who took two of three from the Pirates. Pete Fairbanks retired the side in order with one strikeout in the ninth inning for his 11th save.

Skenes, drafted first overall by Pittsburgh in 2023, struck out eight and allowed one run and six hits with one walk in a season-high seven innings.

“That’s kind of been the goal since the start of the year, being able to get guys out quick,” Skenes said. “A couple of one-pitch outs in there. It was nice to cover that many innings.”

The 22-year-old right-hander has 61 strikeouts and eight walks in eight starts, becoming the first National League pitcher since 1901 with at least 60 strikeouts and fewer than 10 walks in his first eight appearances. Masahiro Tanaka (66 strikeouts, seven walks in 2014 with the New York Yankees) is the only pitcher to accomplish it in the majors, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Skenes retired the final 11 batters he faced, capped by striking out Alex Jackson on a 102 mph fastball to stay 4-0 and lower his ERA to 2.14. The rookie has thrown 70 pitches of at least 100.0 mph this season. No other starter has more than 36.

In three starts since June 11, he has an 0.93 ERA with 23 strikeouts and two walks in 19 1/3 innings.

“When anybody throws 100 or 102, or whatever it is, you have to attack the hardest pitch,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “So, I think that’s something that he’ll continue to see. The really good thing about it is he has other weapons to attack people with and I think we’ve seen that over the last couple starts.”

Bryan Reynolds’ infield single in the bottom of the first extended his hit streak to a career-best 20 games, the longest active in the majors. He then sent Aaron Civale’s curveball 360 feet over the wall in right, tying it 1-1 in the fourth with his 12th homer this season.

Civale went five innings for Tampa Bay, giving up one run and three hits.

“Yandy set the tone with his home run. They answered back with their big home run,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “But quite the pitchers' duel. Our pitchers did a tremendous job, highlighted by Civale.”


Rays: Infielder Amed Rosario was not in the lineup after being hit by a 100 mph fastball from Pirates starter Jared Jones in the first inning Saturday.

Pirates: Right-hander David Bednar, a two-time All-Star closer, was placed on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to June 20, with a strained left oblique muscle.


Rays: Right-hander Taj Bradley (2-4, 4.06 ERA) will take the mound to start a three-game home series against the Mariners on Monday. Right-hander Bryan Woo (3-1, 1.67) is expected to go for Seattle.

Pirates: Left-hander Bailey Falter (3-5, 3.74) is in line to start Monday, the first of a three-game series at Cincinnati. Right-hander Carson Spiers (0-1, 3.20) will start for the Reds.


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