ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — This dash to third base was a bit different for Mallex Smith.
The Tampa Bay left fielder rushed in to tag out speedy Billy Hamilton after a lengthy rundown, highlighting the Rays’ 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday June 21.
“When you get the fast guy like that, you’ve got to bring our fast guy and run him down,” said Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr.
Hamilton stole his major league-leading 31st base in the fourth inning. But he later got trapped when he thought about scoring from second base on a two-out grounder by Eugenio Suarez that shortstop Daniel Robertson bobbled.
It took five throws to nab Hamilton between home and third, with six Rays lined up ready to take part in the rundown. Smith hurried from the outfield and was stationed at third to take a throw and tag Hamilton.
“Who knew he could play infield?” Souza said.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Smith was the first left fielder to make a rundown putout since Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun on April 8, 2016, on Houston’s Carlos Gomez after four throws on a stolen base attempt.
Smith singled twice, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. The string had taken place since he was recalled from Triple-A Durham on June 9 to replace Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, out with a broken right hip.
“He’s ignited our offense,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
“He creates havoc,” Souza added.
Trevor Plouffe homered for his new team and Taylor Featherston also connected for Tampa Bay. Souza and Logan Morrison each drove in two runs.
The Rays also cost themselves on the bases. Plouffe and Featherston both were thrown out at third attempting to advance on hits, and Souza was picked off second.
“We overcome some mistakes, obviously,” Cash said.
Erasmo Ramirez (4-2), who was 0-2 with a 10.06 ERA over his previous four starts, held the Reds hitless until Scott Schebler launched his 20th home run leading off the fifth.
Schebler added an RBI single in the sixth. Cincinnati dropped the final two games of the series after winning the opener to stop a nine-game skid.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It would have been a good feel to not just break a losing streak, but to win a series.”
Chase Whitley entered with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth, and worked out of the jam. He pitched the ninth to get his second save.
Plouffe was cut by Oakland last week. He hit a solo homer in a two-run fourth off Tim Adleman (4-4) that put Tampa Bay up 3-0.
“First impressions go a long way, and this park didn’t leave a good one,” Adleman said of Tropicana Field. “That’s tough to have a white roof when you play with a white ball, and catwalks everywhere. That doesn’t seem like a major league baseball game.”
Reds: RHP Homer Bailey (right elbow) will return to start Saturday at Washington.
Rays: OF Colby Rasmus sat out because of hip soreness. He missed the first month of the season recovering from hip surgery. … SS Tim Beckham, hit by a pitch on the left hand Monday, didn’t play.
GETTING A BREAK
Rays 3B Evan Longoria, mired in a 2-for-19 slide, was rested.
Lego artist Nathan Sawaya threw the ceremonial first pitch with a baseball he made out of Legos.
Reds 1B Joey Votto walked three times and has reached base safely in 21 straight games. He also had a 27-game on-base stretch earlier this season.
Reds: RHP Luis Castillo will be called up from Double-A Pensacola to make his major league debut on the road Friday night against Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (8-2).
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (5-4) looks to improve on his 3-7 record and 4.69 ERA against Baltimore in the opener of a three-games series with Orioles on Friday night.