CLEVELAND (AP) — For the first time in a year, the Rays didn’t get run over on the road.
Corey Dickerson hit a three-run homer — his third homer in two days — and Alex Cobb controlled Cleveland over seven inning as Tampa Bay busted out the bats in a 7-4 win over the Indians on Wednesday to complete the Rays’ most successful trip since last May.
Dickerson connected in the second inning off Josh Tomlin (2-5) and Logan Morrison hit a solo shot in the third for the free-swinging Rays, who hit a franchise-record 10 homers in the three-game series and went 4-2 on a swing through Boston and Cleveland — two of the AL’s toughest stops.
“We’re coming out of here on a huge high,” said Cobb, who threw 115 pitches — his most since Tommy John surgery in 2014 — on an unseasonably warm day. “We’re pumped about the way we played on this road trip. We’ve done a good of putting things together.”
Cobb (4-3) allowed three runs and six hits and retired the last eight batters he faced.
Jesus Sucre also homered for the Rays, who have 59 already this season.
“They might strike out quite a bit, but they’re a pretty athletic bunch,” Tomlin said. “I know they swing a lot, but they can find the barrel pretty good, too.”
Indians rookie Bradley Zimmer hit his first career homer in the ninth off Alex Colome, and Jason Kipnis almost got one, but Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier robbed him with a leaping catch for the final out.
While the Rays found their swing on the road, Edwin Encarnacion remains in a hitting funk for Cleveland.
The slumping slugger struck out looking with the bases loaded in the third and again with one on in the fifth. Encarnacion, who signed a three-year, $60 million free agent contract — the richest in team history — is batting just .203 and in a 2 for 23 slide.
Encarnacion is also batting only .108 (4 for 37) with runners in scoring position.
“He’s OK. He really is,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He knows what’s going on and what he’s supposed to do and all that. He’s OK and he’s going to be OK, it’s just not been the best six weeks. He’ll get it.”
After Dickerson homered twice in a five-homer barrage Tuesday Tampa Bay came out swinging against Tomlin, who struck out five straight before giving up three consecutive two-out hits — the last an RBI double by Sucre.
Dickerson, who came in tied for the AL lead in hits, followed with his ninth homer, a towering shot into the right-field seats to make it 4-0.
Tomlin’s performance ballooned the ERA for Cleveland’s starters to a league-high 5.17. In the last five games, Indians starters have a 9.14 ERA.
With ace Corey Kluber on the disabled list, there is some genuine concern about the starting staff, which is supposed to be the team’s strongest unit.
“I don’t think we’ve probably executed as well as we can,” pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. “We probably haven’t pitched to our strengths as well as we can, and I think some of the numbers show that. It’s kind of perplexing when you look at, ‘How is this possible? This number doesn’t usually correlate with what’s going on over here.’
“We really need to simplify things, start pitching to our strengths a little bit more and make sure we navigate lineups the right way.”
Kiermaier ended the trip with a dazzling play, backing up to the wall and snagging Kipnis’ shot.
“It felt really good to close out the game like that,” he said. “Colome’s my guy so I’m happy I was able to save him a run.”
Rays: Starting 2B Brad Miller (strained left abdominal muscle) missed his second straight game and will be examined by a doctor before Friday’s series opener against the Yankees.
Indians: OF Abraham Almonte will be out for at least three weeks with a strained right biceps. There were initial fears he might need surgery, but the club said an MRI revealed “a high grade” strain. … OF Austin Jackson ran the bases before the game. He’s on the disabled list with a hyperextended left toe.
Rays: Tampa will have its only day off in May before opening a three-game series at home Friday with RHP Erasmo Ramirez facing the Yankees. Ramirez just rejoined the rotation after Blake Snell was sent to the minors.
Indians: Cleveland begins a three-game series in Houston on Friday with Trevor Bauer making his 100th career start. The right-hander is 6-0 with a 2.61 ERA in six outings against the Astros.
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