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Franco Provides Big Blast To Even Series With Cubs

photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays

After being scratched Monday with quad tightness, Wander Franco came back with a vengeance Tuesday, collecting three hits, including his first home run of 2022, helping the Tampa Bay Rays even up their three-game series with the Chicago Cubs with a 6-5 win at Wrigley Field.

Tampa Bay was able to get out to an early 1-0 lead in the second, as Yandy Diaz doubled off Cubs starter Justin Steele to start the inning, moving to third on a flyout by Brandon Lowe and scoring on a groundout by Manuel Margot.

Franco extended the Rays’ lead an inning later after Taylor Walls‘ one-out walk from Steele and a fielder’s choice by Randy Arozarena, as he unloaded on a fastball and sent it into the bleachers in left-center to push to advantage to 3-0.

Walks to Harold Ramirez and Diaz would lead to a fourth run, with Lowe’s RBI single.

Chicago clawed back into the game in the fourth against Josh Fleming, with Ian Happ singling in front of Frank Schwindel, who doubled him in to get the Cubs on the board.  Nick Madrigal then grounded out, and Patrick Wisdom, pinch-hitting for Jason Heyward, blasted a two-run homer to bring the lead back to a single run.

The Rays got some more breathing room in the seventh, starting with a Walls triple off Chris Martin and a double by Arozarena.  Franco grounded out, moving Arozarena to third, and Ramorez drove him in with a base hit to make it 6-3.

Nico Hoerner‘s RBI triple in the bottom of the seventh cut the lead back to 6-4, and a wild pitch by Ryan Thompson allowed the shortstop to score and make the game a one-run affair again.

But Thompson struck out Jonathan Villar to end the inning, and Andrew Kittredge worked two perfect innings to finish out the game and earn his second save.

The win gets the Rays back to .500 at 6-6 on the season.

Tampa Bay can finish off a series win and secure a ,500 road trip with a win Wednesday.  Drew Rasmussen (0-1, 5.00 ERA) will get the start, taking on Marcus Stroman (0-1, 6.00 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled for 7:40.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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