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Rays Top Royals in Series Opener

Tommy Pham, Yandy Diaz and Ji-Man Choi each drove in a pair of runs, sending the hot-hitting Tampa Bay Raysto an 8-5 victory over the Kansas City Royalson Monday night.

Michael Perez and Kevin Kiermaier also drove in runs for the Rays (19-9), who have won five of six to build upon the best record in baseball. They also moved to 10-2 on the road.

Yonny Chirinos went 5 2/3 innings in relief of effective opener Ryne Stanek, allowing two earned runs on two hits and a walk. Chirinos improved to 4-0 after going 0-3 last season.

The Rays did most of their damage against Brad Keller (2-3), who struggled in his return from a five-game suspension for his role in a fracas with the Chicago White Sox. The big right-hander allowed five runs on six hits and three walks over five innings.

The Rays jumped on Keller in the first when Choi drew a two-out walk, went to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a balk. When he scored on Diaz’s base hit, Tampa Bay had outscored its opponents 29-4 in the first inning this season.

The Rays added three more in the second after Kiermaier was hit by a pitch, beginning a parade of batters to the plate. Perez delivered an RBI double and Pham provided the big blow with a two-run triple, staking the Rays’ pitching staff – with the best ERA in baseball – to a 4-0 lead.

They nearly gave it right back in the third.

The Royals took advantage of an error by Rays shortstop Daniel Robertson and a walk to Whit Merrifield when Adalberto Mondesi tripled to right. He scored on Alex Gordon’s sacrifice fly.

Jorge Soler homered in the seventh for Kansas City, but the Rays added a run in the eighth and Choi’s two-run double off Wily Peralta in the ninth to put the game away.

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