ATLANTA — David Price pitched out of trouble to become the AL’s first 10-game winner, Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer and the Tampa Bay Rays posted a 10-4 victory Tuesday night over the Atlanta Braves, who learned that longtime star Chipper Jones is considering retirement.
After a rain delay of nearly 21/2 hours at the start, a throwing error led to three unearned runs in a four-run first that sent Kenshin Kawakami (0-9) to another loss. He became the first starting pitcher in Braves franchise history to begin a season with nine straight defeats.
Price (10-2) was hardly dominating, lasting only five innings and throwing 113 pitches. But he got out of numerous jams, including striking out Brooks Conrad with two runners aboard on his final pitch of the night.
After falling behind, Atlanta had plenty of chances to bounce back in a game that started late because of storms and didn’t end until 1 a.m.
But the Braves failed to take advantage of a bases-loaded, no-outs situation in the second and wound up leaving 14 runners on base — at least one in every inning but the ninth.
Tampa Bay stayed tied for first with the New York Yankees, who beat Philadelphia 8-3. The Braves’ lead in the NL East fell to just a half-game over the other New York team; the Mets beat Cleveland 7-6.
The Rays put the game out of reach with two runs in the sixth — including Carl Crawford scoring after getting up from a face-first tumble between third and home — and three more in the seventh off Chris Resop, who had a rough debut with the Braves after being called up from triple-A earlier in the day.
The Braves’ day began with Jones saying that he’s considering retirement at the end of another disappointing season. He met with team officials before the game and indicated that an official announcement could be coming soon.
But the 38-year-old Jones showed he’s still got some pop in his bat. He doubled and scored in the third, then hit a solo homer into the centre-field seats in the eighth.
But the Rays did most of the scoring right from the start. With one out in the first, Crawford reached when shortstop Yunel Escobar’s throw pulled first baseman Troy Glaus off the bag. Longoria followed with a towering drive into the left-field seats for his 12th homer. Left-fielder Melky Cabrera barely moved on the play, other than turning to watch it land about halfway up in the lower desk.
Kawakami struck out Carlos Pena, but Ben Zobrist walked, B.J. Upton doubled and Sean Rodriguez brought them both home with a double just inside the third-base bag, extending his hitting streak to 15 games.
Kawakami went five innings, giving up seven hits and walking three. He was charged with five runs, but only two were earned. That didn’t lessen the sting of another loss and further endanger his spot in the rotation, especially if Jair Jurrjens comes off the disabled list as expected in about two weeks.
Zobrist had a two-run single in the sixth, while Longoria added a run-scoring double in the seventh to give him three RBIs on the night.
NOTES: Resop was recalled from triple-A Gwinnett after going 5-2 with a 1.84 ERA in 13 starts. The Braves farmed out struggling reliever Jesse Chavez, who was 0-1 with a 7.33 ERA in 18 games. ... The Braves said Jurrjens had no problems in his first start of a minor-league rehab assignment as he comes back from a hamstring injury. He threw 66 pitches in a start for Gwinnett on Monday, and will likely make two more appearances in the minors before coming off the DL. ... Crawford reached base five times on two hits, two walks and Escobar’s errant throw.