BY: John Mamola

Jerry Sands pinch hit RBI single in the Rays half of the eighth inning proved to be the game winner as the Rays take two of three from the Houston Astros in a 4-3 win on Sunday.  Sands at bat was made special not only because he was the difference in the game, but also because the at bat contained the use of three actual bats in an unusual circumstance of breaking all three bats used in the single plate appearance.

While Sands delivered in the later innings the Houston Astros offense delivered early and with authority against Rays starting pitcher David Price.  Price allowed a pair of solo home runs in the Astros first inning to Dexter Fowler and Matt Dominguez which put Houston with an early 2-0 lead.  It was the first time in Price’s career that he’s allowed a home run to lead off the game (Fowler). 

The Rays cut the lead in half in the top half of the second inning with a bases loaded walk by Yunel Escobar making it 2-1.  The Rays however could not produce more than the lone run even with the bases loaded and no outs to begin the frame against Astros starter Brad Peacock. 

Jesus Guzman gave the Astros back their two-run lead in the bottom half of the third on an RBI single scoring Fowler, but that would be the last time Houston would light the scoreboard.  David Price finished the game pitching eight strong innings retiring 16 of the last 17 batters he faced.  Price struck out 12 Astros batters to reach his 20th double digit strikeout game which sets a new Rays record. 

The Rays offense came alive and began to cut into the Astros lead beginning with a Escobar RBI single in the 4th inning and an run scored on a RBI single by Desmond Jennings in the sixth tying the game at three.  Jerry Sands pinch-hit for Jose Molina in the Rays half of the eighth inning following a Matt Joyce single and a hit by pitch to Escobar.  Sands worked a six-pitch/three-bat plate appearance into a broken bat RBI single scoring the game winning run. 

Jake McGee came in the ninth to seal the game for the Rays with his first save of the season and second for his career.   The Rays win their first series since May 23-25 as they entered Houston 0-4-1 in their last five.

The Rays will head back to Tampa Bay to begin a 10-game home stand on Monday against the Baltimore Orioles.  Tampa Bay will send Jake Odorizzi to the mound to pitch against Wei Yin Chen for Baltimore.