Bubic Goes 7, Royals Edge Rays 4-2 To Win Series

Kansas City Royals' Whit Merrifield (15) celebrates after his double in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during a baseball game Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
Kansas City Royals' Whit Merrifield (15) celebrates after his double in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during a baseball game Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kris Bubic went seven strong innings, Hunter Dozier and MJ Melendez had late-inning RBIs and the Kansas City Royals beat Tampa Bay 4-2 on Sunday, winning a series against the Rays for the first time in five years.

Dozier snapped a 2-all tie with two outs in the seventh when he singled off Brooks Raley (1-1) to score Whit Merrifield. Melendez added an insurance run with a double down the left-field line in the eighth.

The Royals overcame the loss of Bobby Witt Jr. for their first series win against the Rays since 2017. They broke an 11-series losing streak to the American League East.

“Just a great series. That is a good team and to walk out with a series win is a big deal for us,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “We had so many guys on base and we had a lot of missed opportunities today and those are ones that usually slip away, but our guys just kept with it and got some big hits late.”

Bubic (2-6) tied with a season high by pitching seven innings. He gave up two runs on four hits, walked three and struck out four.

“Solid outing, to be able to pitch deep into a game like that in back-to-back outings is nice," Bubic said. "It’s good to give the bullpen a little break and the defense picked me up in some crucial situations. All around every facet was good today.”

For the second straight game, the Royals lost a lead but found some timely hits late to prevail.

Witt hit an RBI single in the first inning, but exited the game before the next half-inning even started. The 22-year-old rookie stole second but then gingerly ran to third on a fly ball to center field and was removed with right hamstring tightness. He is considered day to day.

“They told me as of now it’s just sore, tight hamstrings," Witt said. "Hopefully I will be back in there soon.”

He has a hit in 14 of his last 16 games with 12 RBIs and eight stolen bases while hitting over .360 in that stretch.

Nick Pratto made it 2-0 in the second with a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Michael A. Taylor.

Tampa Bay responded, as Yandy Diaz hit a 434-foot homer to center field for his first since May 14. The Rays tied the game in the sixth on a sac fly by Luke Raley.

“I was very happy I was able to hit that home run," Diaz said. "I wasn’t looking for it, it is not what I go for, but I was happy it happened.”

Taylor Clarke got his second save of the season.

ROSTER MOVES

Rays: Reinstated RHP Jeffrey Springs (right lower leg tightness) from the 15-day injured list and optioned RHP Luis Patino to Triple-A Durham.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals: RHP Jonathan Heasley (right shoulder tendinitis) and LHP Daniel Lynch (blister) will begin rehab assignments in Triple-A Omaha.

UP NEXT

Tampa Bay will start a four-game series in Baltimore on Monday with right-hander Corey Kluber (6-5, 3.73 ERA) on the mound. The Royals continue their homestand when they host the Angels on Monday with right-hander Zack Greinke (3-6, 4.64 ERA) getting the start.