MARK DIDTLER, Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Evan Longoria drove in two runs, Jeremy Hellickson went 4 1-3 innings in his season debut, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 on Tuesday night.
The Rays opened the sixth with three consecutive hits, including a two-run single by Longoria off Jason Vargas (8-4), to take a 2-1 lead. Vargas, who allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings, was coming off seven innings in the Royals’ 4-0 win Wednesday against Minnesota.
Hellickson, coming back after arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in January, gave up one run and six hits.
James Loney had an RBI double and Logan Forsythe hit a sacrifice fly as Tampa Bay took a 4-1 lead in the eighth. The Rays were aided when Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar fielded Longoria’s grounder with no outs, but was beaten to second base by Brandon Guyer, who had a leadoff bunt single.
Salvador Perez had three RBIs, including a two-run single off Jake McGee in the ninth that pulled the Royals within 4-3. Kansas City had at least one baserunner in all nine innings.
McGee, the fourth Tampa Bay reliever, went the final 1 1-3 innings for his sixth save. The left-hander entered with two on and two outs in the eighth, and got a flyball from pinch-hitter Danny Valencia.
Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain reached base five times — four hits and a walk. The Royals went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position through eight innings.
Brad Boxberger (2-1) replaced Hellickson in the fifth with runners on first and third with one out and gave up an RBI grounder to Perez that put Kansas City ahead 1-0.
NOTES: The Royals signed LHP Joe Saunders to a minor league deal and will assign him to Triple-A Omaha. … Rays manager Joe Maddon said OF David DeJesus (broken left hand) should be back by early August, while OF Wil Myers (broken right wrist) could return in mid-August. … Kansas City manager Ned Yost said OF Nori Aoki (strained left groin) could return just before or right after the All-Star break. … Tampa Bay SS Yunel Escobar (shoulder) started a rehab assignment with Single-A Charlotte. … Royals RHP Yordano Ventura (6-7) and Rays RHP Alex Cobb (4-6) are the scheduled starters for the series finale Wednesday night.
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