ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Ryan Pepiot allowed two hits in six scoreless innings, Jose Siri and Brandon Lowe homered, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the struggling AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians 2-0 on Sunday.

Despite losing 11 of 18, the Guardians (58-37) have the AL’s best record at the All-Star break for the first time since 1999. Cleveland was outscored 6-4 in dropping two of three to the Rays.

“Tough ending to a tough road trip, but couldn’t be more proud of our guys for the first half,” Cleveland manager Stephen Vogt said. “And we put ourselves in a great position to come out of the break. I couldn’t be more proud of the work that this group has done.”

Tampa Bay was hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position, and finished 1 for 33 in the series. Cleveland was 0 for 5 on Sunday and 1 for 20 overall in the series.

Pepiot struck out four. Colin Poche and Jason Adam both went one hitless inning before Pete Fairbanks worked out of a two-on, no-jam in the ninth to get 17th save in 19 chances and complete a four-hitter

"I felt like he lacked a little velo early, but then he picked the velo up, but his changeup was really good," Vogt said of Pepiot.

Steven Kwan went 1 for 4 and is hitting .352. The Cleveland outfielder, who had two hits in 12 at-bats during the series, is the first Cleveland player to lead the majors in hitting at the All-Star break since Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau in 1947.

Kwan and Angel Martínez singled off Fairbanks to start the ninth. But the closer retired the heart of the lineup - José Ramírez, Josh Naylor and David Fry - to end it.

“Saves are saves,” Fairbanks said.

Tampa Bay enters the All-Star break at 48-48. The Rays have gone 14-9 since June 19, but haven’t been more than three games above .500 this season.

“We’ve done some good things,” Rays manager Kevin Cash. “We’ve done some things that aren’t so good. I like the way that we’ve played here the last month. Feel like we’re a better version of ourselves right now."

Siri's first-pitch homer leading off the third was the Rays' first hit. Lowe made it 2-0 on the Rays' third hit, another first-pitch leadoff homer off Ben Lively (8-5) in the sixth.

“I was throwing a bunch of heaters,” Lively said. “They guessed right.”

Lively gave up two runs and three hits over 5 1/3 innings.

Cleveland's Andrés Giménez had a fifth-inning leadoff infield single and stole second, but was thrown out at third for the first out by shortstop Taylor Walls on Daniel Schneemann's grounder.

The Guardians were shut out twice in the series, and for the eighth time overall.


Guardians: Left-hander Matt Boyd is scheduled to pitch in a game Tuesday for the first time since Tommy John surgery with the rookie-level Guardians.


Guardians: Return home Friday night against San Diego.

Rays: Right-hander Zach Eflin (5-6, 3.99 ERA) faces the New York Yankees on Friday night.



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