ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays got the key hits and outs when they needed. them
Evan Longoria drove in two runs, Jeremy Hellickson went 4 1/3 innings in his season debut, and the Rays beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 on Tuesday night.
The Rays opened the sixth with three consecutive hits, including a two-run single by Longoria off Jason Vargas (8-4), to take a 2-1 lead. Vargas, who allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings, was coming off seven innings in the Royals’ 4-0 win Wednesday against Minnesota.
The Royals went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position, had at least one baserunner every inning, and left 11 on base.
The fourth-place Rays, winners of 10 of their last 13 games, are nine games behind AL East-leading Baltimore.
Hellickson, coming back after arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in January, gave up one run and six hits.
Salvador Perez had three RBIs, including a two-run single off Jake McGee in the ninth that pulled the Royals within 4-3. McGee ended the game by striking out Infante with a runner on second.