ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Nate Lowe hit a solo homer and Texas rookie Kohei Arihara got his first major league victory, pitching into the sixth inning Wednesday night as the Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1.
Arihara (1-1) allowed two singles and a double over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in his third start since signing with the Rangers after six seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan’s Pacific League. He struck out five and walked none.
“I obviously was glad I could contribute to the team winning. I hope I can continue to do that,” Arihara said through a translator. “It’s a good start. … Obviously, I’m very happy.”
Lowe, a former Rays draft pick traded from Tampa Bay to Texas in December, homered against ex-teammate Josh Fleming (0-1) for a 1-0 lead the Rangers clung to until David Dahl’s two-run double and Adolis García’s two-run triple broke it open in the seventh.
Lowe snapped an 0-for-19 slump during an 8-3 win over the Rays the previous night. He and Fleming are golf buddies and Lowe may have benefited Wednesday night by having faced the Rays starter numerous times when the two were at Tampa Bay’s alternate training site together last year.
“That was sweet,” Lowe said. “I tried to take the emotion out of it, but I’ll take success against whoever.”
Fleming credited Lowe with “a good piece of hitting.”
“If anyone’s going to get a hit or a home run or whatever it may be, it better not be him. And sure enough, he’s the one to take me deep,” Fleming said. “But that how it goes sometimes.”
Arihara, a 28-year-old right-hander, worked out of a jam after allowing a single to Yandy Diaz and double to Joey Wendle to begin the second inning by getting Manuel Margot to pop to left field and striking out Yoshi Tsutsugo and Mike Zunino.
“That probably was the biggest three at-bats of the game, sort of set the tone for the rest” of the 85-pitch outing, Rangers manager Chris Woodward said.
Fleming, meanwhile, yielded one run and four hits over five-plus innings in his season debut. The 24-year-old left-hander went 5-0 with a 2.78 ERA in seven appearances (five starts) last season while helping Tampa Bay compile the best record in the AL.
The sputtering Rays have been held to 13 runs over their past five games — five through the first three nights of a four-game series that concludes Thursday.
The Rays avoided a shutout when Brandon Lowe homered leading off the ninth against reliever Kyle Cody.
The Rays have used seven starting pitchers this season, the most in franchise history through 12 games. Fleming became the 34th player and 19th pitcher used by last year’s AL champions, both major league highs.
Rangers: OF/DH Willie Calhoun (left groin strain) is active at the team’s alternate training site, and would have to stay there through at least Friday under COVID-19 protocols, though it’s not certain will be recalled when available Saturday. “Willie is just a matter of if we feel like he’s had enough at-bats and we want to bring him up,” Woodward said. … Woodward does anticipate 3B Brock Holt (right hamstring) being ready when he is eligible to come off the injured list Saturday. He is with the team in Florida, going through workouts.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer, who’s less than a week into a stint on the 10-day injured list due to right lateral forearm tightness, played light catch Wednesday. “He’s still feeling it some … but certainly making progress, so we’re happy with that,” manager Kevin Cash said.
The four-game series concludes with lefty Rich Hill (1-0, 7.20) starting for the Rays as they seek a split. Right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-0, 4.50) takes the mound for the Rangers.
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