Tampa Bay Squeezes Out Ninth Straight Citrus Series Win Over Miami

Michael Perez's fourth inning double brought home three runs that would end up being the game winners in the 5-4 win

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In baseball, one hit can be the difference on any given night - and Friday night, that hit was a bases clearing double that propelled the Tampa Bay Rays to yet another Citrus Series victory.

Michael Perez's fourth inning hit brought home three runs that would end up being the game winners in the 5-4 win over the Miami Marlins inside an empty Tropicana Field.

The victory was Tampa Bay's ninth straight over their Sunshine State rivals - a streak dating back to the 2018 season and includes a three game sweep last weekend inside Marlins Park.

The Rays (27-12) got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning when designated hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo homered to left center off Marlins starter Pablo Lopez (3-3), with the solo shot being Tsutsugo's sixth home run of the season.

Miami (16-17) tied it up in the top of the third inning with a solo home run from left fielder Corey Dickerson off Rays starter Josh Fleming (3-0) - followed one inning later by designated hitter Jesus Aguilar connecting on a solo shot for his fifth homer of the season.

Lopez got trouble in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases before walking Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier to tie the game at two before Perez's hit. That would be the end of the night for Lopez, who went four innings and struck out six batters while giving up five hits.

Miami got two runs back in the top of the fifth inning with a double by second baseman Jon Berti that went off the glove of Kiermaier before Fleming got first baseman Garrett Cooper to ground out with two runners on to end the threat.

Fleming went five innings on the night for Tampa Bay, allowing seven hits and striking out two Miami batters. The Rays bullpen shut the door on the Marlins, pitching four scoreless innings while allowing just one hit while Nick Anderson struck out Berti to end the game with two runners on to earn his fourth save of the season.

Tampa Bay will go for yet another win over Miami on Saturday with Sandy Alcantara scheduled to get the start for the Marlins and Blake Snell scheduled to start for the Rays. First pitch is at 6:40 p.m.

If there is any hope for Miami, it might be that the Marlins have had some recent success in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, winning two of the series played at the home of the Rays over the past four seasons.

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