ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The schedule didn't require the Tampa Bay Rays to use a fifth starter much in the first month of the season, so Erasmo Ramirez went to the bullpen, with three relief outings and a win in his short time there.
When the schedule called for him to go back as a spot-starter Saturday, he didn't skip a beat, throwing 5 2/3 innings of shutout baseball on a "bullpen day" as the Rays hit three home runs in a 7-2 win over the Chicago White Sox at Tropicana Field.
"Erasmo provided a much-needed really, really good start -- he was extremely efficient," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "A lot of guys contributed quite a bit today offensively, kind of a team win, but highlighted by Erasmo."
The Rays (4-7) had totaled one run in their last three games, all losses, but they found their bats Saturday, getting home runs from Brandon Guyer, Brad Miller and Desmond Jennings. Miller, who had opened his Rays career 2-for-28 with zero RBIs, came through with a two-run home run in the fourth and later added an RBI double.
"I thought it was huge, BG (Guyer) jumping out there and getting us on the board when our starter was in there," Miller said. "For Brandon to get us on the board there broke the seal a little bit. ... Being a new guy, you just want to contribute. You want to earn your teammate and manager's respect by going out and battling. It felt good to reward their confidence in me."
Tampa Bay had held the lead after a total of eight innings in their first 10 games, but did so for seven innings Saturday. Chicago (8-3) had allowed only two runs in their last four games, and saw a five-game win streak come to an end.
"We need to get something going. We can't sit there and expect these guys to shut people out and give up only one," manager Robin Ventura said. "It's early -- I don't expect these guys to be swinging this way all year. Right now, it's just the way it is and you're looking for guys to warm up a little bit."
The White Sox threatened in the seventh, getting a two-run home run from Brett Lawrie -- his first of the season -- off reliever Steve Geltz to cut the lead to 4-2. Pinch hitter Jerry Sands singled, bringing the tying run to the plate in Austin Jackson, but reliever Xavier Cedeno struck him out to end the rally.
Danny Farquhar pitched a scoreless ninth for the Rays' first save of the season.
The Rays, who had a crowd of 30,451 for Kevin Kiermaier bobblehead night, got a bases-loaded single from Evan Longoria in the seventh to extend their lead to 5-2, and Jennings added a solo home run in the eighth. Miller added an RBI double in the eighth, and had as many hits Saturday as in the Rays' first 10 games combined.
White Sox starter John Danks (0-2) gave up five earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, barely lowering an ERA that was 9.00 coming in.
"Early on, we need to give him some support, too," Ventura said. "That fourth inning was tough -- he battled in there. When you end up having to get some extra outs, it's tough. We're not going to win them all, but I like the way they're fighting."
Ramirez, who has worked as a reliever this year and was pressed into duty on a "bullpen" day, exceeded all hopes by taking a shutout into the sixth inning.
Ramirez (2-0) left after 66 pitches, and was in line for the first win for a Rays starter this season. Ramirez faced the minimum in the first three innings, allowing a leadoff single to Adam Eaton but getting a double play to end the first inning.
Ramirez got into trouble in the fourth, hitting Jose Abreu with two outs, then seeing a pop fly to shallow right field against the shift drop in for a double, putting runners at second and third. Melky Cabrera hit a high pop into foul territory, and Longoria reached into the stands to make the inning-ending grab.
Ramirez gave up just three hits, stepping up the first time the Rays needed more than their initial four-man rotation in the first month of the season.
The Rays, held to one run in their three-game losing streak, found their bats to help Ramirez. Guyer, stepping in for injured Kiermaier in center, hit a home run just inside the foul pole for a 1-0 lead in the third for his first RBI of the season.
The Rays struck for three runs in the fourth -- Steven Souza hit an RBI single to score Longoria, who had singled, and Miller hit a two-run homer for a 4-0 lead.
NOTES: The two Rays players' who collided going for a pop fly on Friday night -- CF Kevin Kiermaier and 2B Logan Forsythe -- were both out of Saturday's starting lineup, having left Friday's game after the mishap. Manager Kevin Cash said he's hopeful both players can be back Sunday. Kiermaier has a head contusion and Forsythe a bruised left hip and lower leg. ... The Rays gave all fans at Saturday's game a leaping bobblehead of Kiermaier, who was recognized before the game by Rawlings and formally given his Gold Glove and Platinum Glove, the latter given to the American League's top defensive player. ... LHP Chris Sale tossed a two-hit shutout on Friday to become just the fourth White Sox pitcher to get three wins in the team's first 10 games, joining Wilbur Wood (1972-73), Jack McDowell (1993) and Mark Buehrle (2002).