Miller's blast powers Rays to split with Royals

Miller's blast powers Rays to split with Royals

ST. PETERSBURG -- Feast or famine has been the theme for the Rays' offense this season.

That's what made a 3-2 win over the Royals on Thursday afternoon at Tropicana Field a little different. Tampa Bay earned a split of the four-game series and finished 2-5 for the season against Kansas City.

On Wednesday night, the Rays feasted, scoring 12 runs on 14 hits in a 12-0 win. A famine seemed to be in process in the finale when the Rays trailed, 2-0, and had just one hit after seven innings.

Recap: KC 2, TB 3

"I was getting all over [hitting coach Derek Shelton] Shelty in the dugout about what an encore performance from last night," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Then came the different script.

Joakim Soria started the eighth for the Royals and Logan Forsythe greeted him with a single before Kevin Kiermaier drew a walk. After Evan Longoria struck out swinging, Miller hit a 1-1 pitch into the right-field stands to put the Rays in front.

Soria blew his fourth save and his ERA ballooned to 4.50.

"I tried to get a ground ball, a double play," Soria said. "He gets the barrel of the bat on it and hit it out. It wasn't a bad pitch. In my view, it was a good pitch. But he hit it out, so it wasn't a good pitch."

With Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis on the disabled list, manager Ned Yost said he has little option but to keep going with Soria.

"We're just real thin down there," Yost said. "That's a tough one there."

Alex Colome pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 26th save.

Colome quells rally to earn save

Alex Gordon gave the Royals a 2-0 lead in the fourth when he homered with a man aboard against Rays starter Drew Smyly with two outs.

Smyly surrendered just those two runs in seven innings in a no-decision. Royals starter Ian Kennedy held the Rays scoreless on one hit for six innings, but he took a no-decision.

Kennedy's great outing

"Exciting win," Cash said. "That was awesome. Can't say enough about Drew Smyly, and obviously Brad Miller. They were the stars of the ballgame. Drew, really good start. He threw one flat cutter that stayed up a little bit. Other than that, he was outstanding."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The drought ends: Gordon hadn't homered since July 10, and was just 3-for-24 on this trip when he stepped up against Smyly in the fourth. Gordon pounced on a changeup and rocketed it into the right-field seats. Gordon is one homer shy of tying John Mayberry (143) for sixth on the Royals' all-time list. But that was all the Royals could muster.

Gordon's two-run home run

"You're waiting for [the offense] to break open," Yost said. "I thought Smyly did really good job of just keeping us off-balance. He mixed in curveballs, he mixed in a really changeup, cutters."

K.K. robs Hosmer: The Royals had two outs in the fifth with a runner on first when Eric Hosmer hit a deep drive to center field. Rays center fielder Kiermaier gave chase, twisting one way, then the other before jumping to make the catch and rob Hosmer of extra bases. Hosmer smiled, and made the comment something to the effect of "unbelievable," before tipping his cap to the Rays' fielding wiz.

Kiermaier's incredible grab

Smyly keeps on track: The lefty entered the game having made consecutive quality starts. Thursday afternoon it was more of the same for Smyly, who yielded two runs on five hits in seven innings. He also struck out 10 while walking just one. Unfortunately for Smyly, he's had trouble with the homers this season, giving up a career-high 23rd home run of the season when Gordon reached the seats against him in the fourth.

Smyly fans 10 batters

"It's kind of been a long season for the team in general, it's not going the way we want," Smyly said. "I've never lost confidence in myself. I think you guys have been the ones doubting me and the people reading it. I know in this locker room, they continue to support me and have confidence in me. I'm glad I've been able to turn it around."

Strahm to the rescue ... again: Rookie Matt Strahm is becoming the talk of Royals Twitter. Strahm made a magnificent relief appearance on Tuesday, striking out the only two hitters he faced in a key spot. On Thursday, Strahm was at it again. With the Royals clinging to a 2-0 lead in the seventh, Strahm worked a scoreless inning, striking out two.

Strahm works out of trouble

WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: Right-hander Dillon Gee gets the start on Friday at 7:15 p.m. CT to open a six-game homestand at Kauffman Stadium with the first of three against the Blue Jays. Gee went a season-high six innings in a loss to the Rangers on Sunday -- giving up four runs.

Rays: Left-hander Blake Snell (3-4, 3.08) will make his 10th start on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET in the series opener against the Twins at Tropicana Field. The rookie already seems to be grasping how to pitch in the Major Leagues. He tied his career high with nine strikeouts on Sunday against the Yankees.

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Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.