By Troy Provost-Heron and Michael Kolligian
ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier's two-run home run in the seventh inning backed seven-plus scoreless innings from Erasmo Ramirez and lifted the Rays to a 2-0 victory over the Braves on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
"There wasn't a lot of hitting going on," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Their guy [Williams Perez] was pretty good … Kevin came up with a big hit, separated the ballgame and that was basically it."
The Braves nearly struck first in the opening frame when Nick Markakis delivered a one-out double, but Cameron Maybin was thrown out at home trying to score from first on the play. From there, Ramirez dominated, allowing just three more baserunners while retiring 16 of the final 17 Braves he faced en route to his ninth victory of the season.
Kiermaier's home run proved to be the only blemish for Atlanta starter Perez, who received the loss -- his third of the season -- despite surrendering just four hits in a complete-game effort.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Everything's A-OK: After being held out of the lineup Sunday with a jammed thumb, Kiermaier showed that the injury was no longer a problem when he turned on a 1-2 changeup from Perez for the game-winning home run. The two-run shot was his fifth home run of the season, and his first since June 3 against the Angels. More >
Definitely Maybin: With two outs in the fourth inning and a pitcher's duel well underway between Perez and Ramirez, Rays shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera launched a 1-2 changeup deep to right-center field. Braves center fielder Maybin, who was shading Cabrera slightly to left-center, broke on contact, raced straight to the wall and made a spectacular leaping catch to keep the game scoreless. More >
Victory in defeat: Having posted a 12.19 ERA in two outings since coming off the disabled list on July 31, Perez bounced back nicely for the Braves with a quality start -- his first since June 15 in Boston. The two-out blast in the seventh by Kiermaier represented the only blemish in an otherwise solid performance. The 24-year-old right-hander held the Rays to four hits and four walks in the eight-inning complete game -- the first of his Major League career -- throwing 58 of his 92 pitches for strikes.
"For [Perez] to go out there in the eighth inning and complete the game, and get through the top of the lineup for the fourth time? That's a big step," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez of his 24-year-old starter. More >
Early out proves big: Following a Maybin single in the first, Markakis' double to the right-field wall looked like it would give the Braves an early 1-0 lead, but Daniel Nava was able to track it down quickly and fire to cutoff man Logan Forsythe, who relayed and threw home. The ball beat Maybin to the plate and he attempted a popup slide, but Curt Casali was able apply the tag on an airborne Maybin to record the out and keep the Braves off the board. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
After a 2-for-4 night, Markakis is 19-for-48 (.396) in 13 games against the American League this season. Since Interleague Play began in 1997, Markakis leads the Majors (minimum 150 games played) with a .338 Interleague average.
REPLAY REVIEW John Jaso belted a 1-2 sinker from Perez deep into the right-field stands leading off the first for the Rays, but the ball sailed just foul. Crew chief Gary Cederstrom decided to review the call on the field, and after a review of one minute and 31 seconds, the call on the field was ruled to stand as a foul.
"I didn't have a good view of it," Cash said. "I think we thought it was worth taking a look at. That's a tough camera angle, it's a tough read and once it's called foul, there has to be a lot of evidence to show that it was fair. I'm not disputing that they got the call wrong or right, but I'd feel terrible if it was a homer and we didn't check it out."
WHAT'S NEXT Braves: Rookie Matt Wisler (5-2, 4.85 ERA) will take the ball on Wednesday when the Braves and Rays wrap up their two-game series at Tropicana Field at 7:10 p.m. ET. After pitching to a 3.10 ERA in five starts prior to the All-Star Game, the 22-year-old right-hander has posted a 7.04 mark in four trips to the hill since the break.
Rays:Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 2.77 ERA) will get the start for the Rays in the series finale. Wednesday will mark the right-hander's second start against the Braves this season, as he received a no-decision after surrendering just two runs on four hits in six innings on May 20 at Turner Field.