Big first inning sets tone for Rays vs. Astros

Big first inning sets tone for Rays vs. Astros

HOUSTON -- Tim Beckham cranked a three-run home run off Astros starter Scott Kazmir to cap a two-out rally and a four-run outburst in the first inning that lifted the Rays to a 9-2 win in the series opener Monday night at Minute Maid Park.

Rays starter Erasmo Ramirez (10-4) held the Astros to two runs and six hits, including a solo homer by Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis, in 5 2/3 innings to get Tampa Bay back to .500 (59-59). The loss was only the fourth for the Astros in their past 20 home games.

Ramirez strikes out Correa

Kazmir (6-8) lost his third consecutive start, giving up six runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. The nine hits allowed by Kazmir were his most in a game since June 5, tying a season high. The only extra-base hit he allowed was Beckham's sixth homer.

"They competed on their at-bats the full time and there were a ton of baserunners," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It felt like every inning there was traffic on the bases, and we couldn't handle it."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Beckham blast: Beckham is currently in his third tour of duty with the Rays this season, which began with his July 12 recall. Since then he has hit .262 in 18 games, but he'd been missing the long ball. Beckham hit five home runs in his first 85 at-bats to start the year but had not hit one since May 22. That changed Monday night when he uncorked a three-run homer over the left-field wall to stake the Rays to a 4-0 lead. More >

Beckham gets doused

Breaks beat Astros in first: Kazmir, making only his second home start for the Astros, didn't escape the sixth inning for the third consecutive outing. He retired the first two batters he faced in a maddening first inning in which he threw 38 pitches before giving up a single to Evan Longoria that beat the shift, issuing a walk and then a single that dropped just in front of center fielder Carlos Gomez, setting the stage for Beckham. More >

Cabrera's RBI single

"It's my job to get outs no matter what happened throughout the entire inning," Kazmir said. "I should have been able to bear down, especially with that 0-2 [pitch to Beckham]. I mean I just keep thinking about that, I'll probably think about it all night. Just that 0-2 pitch I could have done so many different things and I ended up just throwing a pitch that was right there."

Geltz escape: Ramirez appeared to be out of the sixth when Beckham's throwing error to first prolonged the inning. Steve Geltz took over with two on and two outs to face Jason Castro. The scrappy right-hander got ahead 1-2 in the count before he caught Castro looking a at an 84-mph splitter for strike three to end the threat and preserve the Rays' four-run lead. Geltz went back out in the seventh and retired the Astros in order.

QUOTABLE
"He's built up a lot of credibility to have an off night or two. I really can't wait to get him back on the mound in five days." -- Hinch, on Kazmir.

"Good win. Bounce back after a difficult series we already talked about. So it was nice to come in here against a very good team that plays really well in this ballpark [and win]." -- Rays manager Kevin Cash, on the win

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
John Jaso knocked a pinch-hit RBI single with runners at the corners in the sixth inning. He has now gone 4-for-his-last-4 (six RBIs) with runners in scoring position. He leads the Major Leagues with a .533 average with runners in scoring position (minimum 10 at-bats).

Jaso's RBI single

WHAT'S NEXT
Rays: Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 3.09) makes his 20th start of the season on Tuesday at 8:10 p.m. ET and hopes to improve on his last outing when he allowed six earned runs in six-plus innings against the Braves and came away with a no-decision. The right-hander has won both of his career starts against the Astros, logging 13 scoreless innings in those outings.

Astros:Veteran right-hander Scott Feldman takes the mound for Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. CT game against the Rays at Minute Maid Park. Feldman, the starting pitcher in the only two wins of the Astros' recent nine-game road trip, is 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA in five starts since being activated from a 45-game DL stint after he tore his medial meniscus

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.