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Jose Siri hits tiebreaker 2-run homer at 9th, Rays beat Braves 8-6 to avoid a sweep

BY BILL TROCCHI

ATLANTA (AP) — Jose Siri hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the ninth inning off Braves closer Raisel Iglesias, and the Tampa Bay Rays defeated Atlanta 8-6 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.

Ben Rortvedt hit the first grand slam of his career in the fourth and Brandon Lowe went 2-for-3 with a homer for the Rays, who entered having lost seven of nine.

“Wins are hard to come by,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We feel it now. Normally you feel pretty good with a 6-2 lead, but the reality is that teams are playing us hard. Definitely happy with the effort today.”

Austin Riley hit a two-run homer in the eighth for Atlanta against Jason Adam (1-0), tying the game at 6, his third straight game with a home run.

In the ninth, Iglesias (0-1) walked leadoff hitter Randy Arozarena and struckout Richie Palacios first. Siri reached a low change of 130 meters to the stands in the left center.

“I’m in the on-deck circle, so I see it right away,” Rortvedt said. “He points lasers at all parts of the ballpark. It’s a lot of fun to watch. It’s electric.”

Pete Fairbanks recorded his 10th save in 11 chances for the Rays, walking the first man in the ninth before retiring the next three batters.

Rays starter Zach Eflin gave up four runs, three earned, on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked none.

Braves rookie Hurston Waldrep struggled again in his second Major League start, giving up six runs on five hits, including two home runs, four walks and a hit batter in 3 1/3 innings. He struck out two. Waldrep has allowed 13 runs over seven innings in the majors.

After the game, Braves manager Brian Snitker said Waldrep would be sent to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Matt Olson extended his hitting streak to 10 games, going 3-for-3 with a double. For the second straight game as the Braves’ leadoff hitter, Jarred Kelenic hit a home run to lead off the game. Travis d’Arnaud went 2-for-4 with a homer.

Rortvedt’s grand slam made it 2-2 in the fourth. With one out, Waldrep hit Arozarena with a pitch, then walked Palacios and Siri. Rortvedt pulled the first pitch just inside the right field foul pole for his first home run of the season.

“In that situation, the first pitch might be the best pitch,” Rortvedt said. “My first (at-bat), I think I had six pitches and I flew out. The first pitch is perhaps the best pitch, and I put a swing on it.

The Braves pushed the lead to the lead in the sixth inning on an RBI single by Adam Duvall and a throwing error by third baseman Palacios, bringing in Austin Riley. Palacios, playing third for the first time in his three-year career, made two errors.

Long-awaited debut

Right-hander Grant Holmes made his major league debut for the Braves after a decade in the minors, pitching three scoreless innings. Holmes was a first-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2014 amateur draft. The Braves sent left-hander Ray Kerr to Triple-A Gwinnett before the game and promoted Holmes.

Trainer’s room

Rays: José Caballero (illness) was scheduled to return to the lineup on Sunday, but was called into action late due to a calf strain. Ahmed Rosario replaced him at short stop. … Shortstop Taylor Walls (illness) was unavailable.

Next one

Rays: RHP Aaron Civale (2-5, 5.20) will face Twins RHP Pablo López (6-6, 5.33) on Tuesday in Minnesota in the opener of a three-game series.

Braves: LHP Max Fried (6-3, 3.20) opens a three-match set against Tigers RHP Reese Olson (1-8, 3.68) in Atlanta on Monday.