Rays interrupt Rangers’ run of road success

Starter Zach Eflin was strong in his first win of the season, Isaac Paredes rocked a three-run homer and the Tampa Bay Rays wrangled the Texas Rangers 5-2 on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Eflin (1-1), the Opening Day starter, made his second start and allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander fanned five, walked one and threw 56 of his 83 pitches for strikes.

Paredes provided the big blow in a four-run fifth inning to help the Rays even their mark through six games.

Harold Ramirez and Curtis Mead had two singles apiece.

Texas’ Jonah Heim notched two RBI singles and Jared Walsh also had two hits, but the Rangers lost for the first time in 13 road outings, dating back to last season’s playoffs and eventual World Series championship.

In his season debut, Andrew Heaney (0-1) tossed 4 2/3 innings. The left-hander yielded four hits and three runs (one earned) while striking out seven with no walks.

In the third inning, Jose Caballero was hit by a pitch leading off and easily swiped second base. The Rangers unsuccessfully challenged the safe call after he appeared to overslide the bag.

Rays’ leadoff hitter Yandy Diaz then hit a single off Heaney’s glove that eluded second baseman Marcus Semien for a run.

Through the first five innings, Eflin clamped the Rangers’ powerful bats and faced just three batters over the minimum — allowing a double to Josh Smith, a walk to Semien and single to Wyatt Langford.

Tampa Bay padded their lead with four unearned runs after first baseman Walsh dropped a popup with two out and the bases empty.

Randy Arozarena later produced an opposite-field RBI single off reliever Yerry Rodriguez, and launched a 363-foot drive to left. The ball banged off the foul pole for Paredes’ second home run and a 5-0 lead.

Texas got to Eflin for a run in the seventh on Heim’s hit and added another in the ninth off closer Pete Fairbanks. The Rangers got the tying run to the plate with two outs, but Fairbanks got Leody Taveras on a long fly to left to end the game.

–Field Level Media