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By MARK DIDTLER
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Backup catcher Francisco Mejia had a three- run double, five Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a seven-hitter, and the Rays beat the Chicago White Sox 9-0 on Sunday in a matchup of AL division leaders.
Austin Meadows had three RBIs for Tampa Bay, which took the final two games of the series after the White Sox won the opener 7-5 in 11 innings. The Rays outscored Chicago 17-4 in the two wins.
“It was very satisfying,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
The Rays loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth against Garrett Crochet. Jose Ruiz entered and gave up Mejia’s hit that made it 6- 0.
Four Tampa Bay relievers followed Chris Archer, who departed with left hip tightness after allowing one hit over two innings. It was Archer’s first start since leaving a game April 10 against the New York Yankees with right forearm tightness.
“With the little bit of rest that I’ve had, the treatment that we’ve done, I feel a lot better,” said Archer, who doesn’t think the injury is a serious one.
Shawn Armstrong (1-0) replaced Archer and struck out four in two hitless innings. Adam Conley and Chris Mazza followed, and Josh Fleming gave up three hits over the final three innings to get his first major league save.
Chicago was 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position Sunday and 3-for-27 in the series.
“That was no fun,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said.
Ruiz balked home a run before Meadows picked up his 88th RBI on a double that put the Rays ahead 8-0 in the seventh.
Tampa Bay has scored eight or more runs in 12 of its last 16 games.
Wander Franco had a run- scoring double and Meadows had an RBI single off Reynaldo Lopez (2-1) as the Rays went up 3-0 in the third. Lopez gave up three runs and six hits in four innings.
First baseman Ji-Man Choi left after scoring on Meadows’ first-inning single with left hamstring tight- ness.
Both teams had a key player out of the lineup.
The Rays announced before the game that slugger Nelson Cruz had been placed on the COVID-19 injured list.
“Woke up not feeling well,” Cash said. “Opted to keep him away. Certainly will test and all that.”
White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson sat out his second consecutive game with leg fatigue and soreness. He could start in Monday night’s game at Toronto.
“He’s not hurt, just sore,” La Russa said. “Just wear and tear.”