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Steven Souza's walk-off homer lifts Tampa Bay Rays over Milwaukee Brewers

By
Greg Auman, The Sports Xchange
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. (pictured) sent a solo shot to left field for a 2-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday at Tropicana Field. Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Rays/Twitter
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. (pictured) sent a solo shot to left field for a 2-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday at Tropicana Field. Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Rays/Twitter

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For the first time in more than three years, the Tampa Bay Rays got a walk-off home run to celebrate.

Knotted in a 1-1 tie and facing a potential sweep, Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. sent a solo shot to left field for a 2-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

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"We were just trying to piece together some good at-bats," said Souza, who recorded his first career walk-off home run. "Unfortunately, this series, we couldn't get that big knock, but it was great right there to come through."

Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson held the Rays in check for eight innings, but Souza took the second pitch from reliever Jacob Barnes (3-3) and sent it over the wall in left field. It is the first career walk-off home run for Souza, and the Rays' first walk-off homer since May 2014, which was the longest active streak in baseball at 277 home games.

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"That's what it was going to take," Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Souza's game-winning home run. "We weren't piecing together anything, I can promise you that. We tried that for three days and failed, so it was going to take somebody leaving the ballpark."

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The Rays (58-55) avoided a series sweep after being shut out on Friday and Saturday. Tommy Hunter (1-0) got the win in relief after getting out of a two-on, no-out jam in the top of the ninth.

The Brewers (59-54) continued their batting woes and fell just short of the sweep. The home run was Souza's 24th of the season and just the sixth hit of the game for the Rays.

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"It was a tough game. Their guys pitched well, too," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I wouldn't say it's a wasted start. It's a great start. He pitched really well. These guys have been pitching in situations where they've got no room for error. He executed it beautifully."

Rays starter Chris Archer held the Brewers to one hit in the first five innings, clinging to a 1-0 lead until Orlando Arcia, continuing a strong series, hit a solo home run to left to tie the game. Arcia had a triple and home run and scored both runs in a 2-0 win Friday, and drove in the first run in a 3-0 win Saturday.

Archer followed the home run with a walk to Travis Shaw and single by Ryan Braun, putting two on with one out. He struck out Jesus Aguilar, misplayed a comebacker for an error to load the bases, then struck out Hernan Perez with the bases loaded to end the inning.

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"We had a couple of opportunities, and like a lot in this streak, we're missing the opportunities and not getting the big hit," Counsell said.

The Rays, shut out by Milwaukee on Friday and Saturday, ended a 21-inning scoreless streak in the second inning Sunday. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs, and a run scored as Wilson Ramos hit into a double play. Nelson struck out Mallex Smith with a runner at third to end the inning with only one run allowed.

Milwaukee lost a starter early for the second straight game -- right fielder Domingo Santana was hit by a pitch in the first inning and had to leave the game with a right wrist contusion. Perez replaced him in right field, and Shaw, who left Saturday's game after a throw from home hit him in the neck as he stole second, replaced Perez at third.

NOTES: The Rays made a minor trade during Sunday's game, sending RHP Ryan Garton and C Mike Marjama to Seattle in exchange for two prospects, LHP Anthony Misiewicz and INF/OF Luis Rengifo. Garton has pitched in 44 games over the last two seasons with a 1-3 record and 5.26 ERA. Marjama was hitting .272 with nine home runs for Triple-A Durham. Misiewicz, 22, is 8-5 with a 4.75 ERA and 117 strikeouts as a starter at Class A Modesto and Double-A Arkansas, while Rengifo, 20, hit .250 with 11 home runs for Class A Clinton. ... Brewers 3B Travis Shaw, who left Saturday's game after a throw from home hit him in the neck as he was stealing second, returned to the lineup Sunday, taking over at third in the first inning after another mid-game injury, this time to RF Domingo Santana. Hernan Perez moved from third base to right field.

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