KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Yandy Diaz hit a three-run double, Drew Rasmussen allowed one run over five innings and the Tampa Bay Rays returned from the All-Star break with a 7-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
Diaz capped a four-run fourth inning with his bases-loaded bloop down the left-field line to give the Rays a 5-1 lead. He has driven in a run in five of the last eight games and tied a season high with his three RBIs.
“I feel happy that it looks like the bats are going to get going,” Diaz said. “People try to prepare a little bit more with runners on base and that’s what I did today and what I try to do.”
Rasmussen (6-3) allowed an earned run and seven hits, walked one and struck out four.
“I felt pretty good,” he said. “They battled and they did a really good job of fouling off good pitches with two strikes and finding some holes. I gave up one hard hit ball in the second, but other than that I didn’t think I allowed many.”
Francisco Mejia went 2 for 4 with two RBIs, while Randy Arozarena and Brandon Lowe each had one.
Royals All-Star Andrew Benintendi had two hits and two RBIs. Hunter Dozier added an RBI, scoring Bobby Witt Jr. in the seventh.
“We put up 12 hits but went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “We just were missing the big hit. I saw some good at-bats all the way around, but we couldn’t get the ones right on top of each other to get a rally going.”
In his first start in 11 days, Brad Keller (5-10) had one of his worst outings to date, tying a career worst with five walks and hitting a batter. He allowed four earned runs in four innings and struck out one.
“When you can’t find the feel for your fastball it’s just going to be a long night,” Matheny said. “Right from the top, he just had a tough time getting any kind of rhythm. Starting the first four innings off with guys on base is only going to make it tougher. He was trying to make the adjustments he needed to make he just couldn’t find it.”
Keller explained what he thought went wrong in his outing.
“That was not good,” he said. “I didn’t have much command of anything but just tried to compete and get as many outs as I could.”
Tampa Bay has won seven of its last eight games and leads the American League wild-card standings. It’s the first time they Rays have won a road series opener since May 6, breaking a nine-series streak.
“It was nice to see that we picked up where we left off offensively,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Yandy (Diaz) has been such a big part of our team in the first half and he’s putting together a great season…We had a lot of good at bats.”
The Rays send Luis Patino (0-1, 6.75 ERA) to the mound against Royals righty Brady Singer (4-3, 4.02 ERA) on Saturday.