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Michael Wacha tosses 6 solid innings, Salvador Perez drives in 2 as the Royals beat the Rays 4-2

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Michael Wacha allowed one run on two hits over six innings, Salvador Perez drove in a pair of runs and the Kansas City Royals got a spectacular defensive play from Kyle Isbel in the ninth to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Wednesday night.

After reliever Chris Stratton gave up a run in the eighth, Royals closer James McArthur entered the game and got Jose Siri to fly out to right field and Richie Palacios to pop foul, leaving runners stranded on second and third.

McArthur came back for the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to Ben Rortvedt before striking out Yandy Diaz. Taylor Walls followed with a shot to deep center, where Isbel leaped up and slammed into the wall, barely hanging onto the catch as he hit the ground. McArthur then got Isaac Paredes to ground back to the pitcher to finish off his 15th save.

“I was kind of surprised I hung onto it. The wall is pretty hard out there,” Isbel said. “I knew there was going to be a collision, but the game is on the line right there.”

Bobby Witt Jr. and Vinnie Pasquantino also drove in runs, pushing Kansas City to its AL-leading 31st home victory.

Wacha (5-6), who pitched for the Rays in 2021, walked three and struck out eight. The only run he allowed came on Paredes’ homer in the first, making it eight consecutive starts allowing two earned runs or fewer.

“He’s really thrown the ball all season,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We just couldn’t get anything going. Mixed speeds really well, altered his delivery when we got guys on base. Slide-stepping and throwing timing off. Good performance.”

Ryan Pepiot (4-5) allowed two runs on four his over four innings for Tampa Bay. He struck out three.

After the series opener was delayed 2 1/2 hours by rain and finished after midnight, and Wednesday night’s game started amid a drizzle, the clouds finally cleared off and a brilliant double rainbow appeared beyond the right-field wall at sunset.

Tampa Bay jumped ahead on Parades’ two-out homer, but that was all the Rays could manage with Wacha on the mound. He left Amed Rosario on third in the second inning, stranded two in the third and worked around a leadoff double in the fourth.

The Royals took advantage of the opening, stringing together three hits in the third inning to take the lead. Isbel led off with a single, but it was Witt’s double to left and Pasquantino’s single moments later that pushed the runs across.

Kansas City still led 2-1 in the seventh when Shawn Armstrong walked Maikel Garcia and Witt. Perez stepped to the plate and got just enough barrel on the ball to bloop a single to right, scoring both of them and giving the Royals a cushion.

McArthur and Isbel made sure in the ninth that a two-run lead was enough.

“That was the most amazing catch I’ve seen,” McArthur said. “I knew (Isbel) had a chance on it because he’s such a good outfielder, but that was just incredible.”


Tampa Bay traded RHP Aaron Civale to the NL Central-leading Brewers, who hope he can help a starting rotation decimated by injuries. The Rays received INF Gregory Barrios in the deal and assigned him to Class-A Bowling Green. Tampa Bay filled Civale’s roster spot by recalling RHP Justin Sterner from Triple-A Durham.


Rays RHP Zach Eflin (4-5, 3.92 ERA) will start the season finale Thursday night. He is coming off six scoreless innings in a 3-1 win over Washington, his first victory since May 13. Royals RHP Alec Marsh (6-5, 4.19) gets the nod for the finale of a 10-game homestand.



AP Sports Writer