ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — José Ramírez hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the fifth, Shane Bieber struck out eight in seven innings and the Cleveland Guardians beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1 on Friday night.
Ramírez's 21st homer, a drive off Jeffrey Springs (3-3), gave Cleveland a 3-1 lead. Ramirez added a two-out RBI single in the eighth after Steven Kwan's third single.
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Bieber (5-6) is just 2-3 in nine starts since June 3. He needed 26 pitches in the first, when Ji-Man Choi hit a run-scoring single. The Rays stranded the bases loaded when Christian Bethancourt struck out.
Emmanuel Clase pitched the ninth for his 22nd save in 24 chances, getting Bethancourt to ground into a game-ending double play. The Guardians won for the third time in four games.
Tampa Bay has lost six of seven and leads Cleveland by 3 1/2 games for the AL's third wild card. The homestand opener drew just 14,671,
Bieber, who has pitched six innings or more in 11 of his last 13 starts, gave up one run and five hits.
Springs allowed three runs and six hits in five innings.
Guardians: RHP Aaron Civale, on the 15-day IL since July 14 with a sprained right wrist, is scheduled to pitch off a mound Sunday.
Rays: The neck strain that put RHP Matt Wisler on the 15-day IL Wednesday is minor, according to manager Kevin Cash. ... C Mike Zunino, who last played June 10 and is out for the season, had surgery on his left shoulder Thursday.
Rays RHP Corey Kluber (6-6, 3.91) will make the second start of his career Saturday against the team for which he won Cy Young Awards in 2014 and 2017. Kluber pitched six scoreless innings for the Yankees against Cleveland last Sept. 17, earning a win. RHP Zach Plesac (2-8, 4.09) will pitch for the Guardians.