ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Zach Eflin pitched five effective innings in his return from injury and the Tampa Bay Rays hit two more home runs Sunday, beating the slumping Chicago White Sox 4-1 for their 13th consecutive home win to begin the season.
Tampa Bay (19-3) tied the 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers for the second-longest home winning streak to start a season since 1901. The 1907 New York Giants opened with 15 straight wins at home.
“It has gone really, really well,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
The Rays are the eighth team since 1901 to start a year by winning of 19 of 22, and the first since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers. The 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers and 1911 Detroit Tigers both opened 20-2.
Luke Raley and Harold Ramirez went deep for the Rays, who have homered in each of their first 22 games — extending their major league record. Tampa Bay has 48 home runs, second-most in big league history through 22 games behind the 2000 St. Louis Cardinals (52).
“The offense has had our back the entire season,” Eflin said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
Eflin (3-0) allowed one run and three hits in a game that took only 2 hours, 2 minutes. He had been on the injured list with lower back tightness for just more than two weeks.
“I felt really good,” Eflin said. “What an awesome team win. Defense is playing amazing. Highlight reels all over the place.”
Third baseman Isaac Paredes made several strong plays in support of Eflin.
“Since we’re clicking on all cylinders offensively, I think we shouldn’t forget about playing our defense and that’s what I’m trying to concentrate on,” Paredes said.
Yonny Chirinos followed Eflin with three perfect innings. Peter Fairbanks worked a 1-2-3 ninth to get his third save and run his team-record scoreless streak to 29 innings.
Eloy Jiménez had an RBI double for the White Sox, who have lost nine of 11 and are 7-15 overall.
“We’ve just got to keep playing,” Chicago manager Pedro Grifol said. “There’s a lot of care in there. There’s a lot of fight in them. We’ve just got to keep fighting. It’s going to turn around.”
Raley hit a two-run homer during a three-run second against Lucas Giolito (1-2), and Ramirez made it 4-0 on a third-inning solo drive.
Tampa Bay has outscored its opponents 149-61.
Giolito gave up four runs and five hits over seven innings. The hits consisted of three doubles and two homers.
“Giolito gave us seven strong innings,” Grifol said. “Helped our bullpen, much-needed help in the bullpen.”
Jiménez, who had solo homers in the first two games of the series, made it 4-1 on his double in the fourth.
Chicago center fielder Luis Roberts, who entered 0 for 10 with six strikeouts in the series, singled in the first. He finished 1 for 4 and has four hits in his last 41 at-bats.
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Rays RHP Taj Bradley, who will make his third major league start Monday night, was asked what his favorite thing is about being a big leaguer and he replied with a smile that it was the clubhouse meals.
“Constant food,” Bradley said. “Take what you like. It’s grocery shopping when I come out of there.”
White Sox: SS Tim Anderson (sprained left knee) is taking batting practice and fielding grounders.
Rays: 1B Yandy Díaz was back in the lineup and had a double and an RBI grounder after leaving Saturday’s game due to dehydration. … RHP Tyler Glasnow (left oblique) will throw in a two-inning simulated game Monday. … CF Jose Siri (right hamstring) went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts in his second game with Triple-A Durham and will rejoin the Rays on Monday to have his status re-evaluated.
White Sox: RHP Lance Lynn (0-2) and Toronto RHP Chris Bassitt (2-2) are Monday night’s scheduled starters.
Rays: Bradley (2-0) will face Houston RHP José Urquidy (1-1).
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