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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Rays 4, Rangers 3 (F/12)

By Todd Wills



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Desmond Jennings ripped a one-out single off Joseph Ortiz in the bottom of the 12th inning as the Tampa Bay Rays pulled off a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.

Tampa Bay took over sole possession of the first wild-card spot, moving a game ahead of the Rangers. The Rangers remained a half-game ahead of the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card. The Indians lost to the Kansas City Royals 7-2. The Baltimore Orioles are one game behind the Rangers after an extra-inning win over the Boston Red Sox.

The Rangers had the go-ahead run on third base with one out in the top of the 12th, but Leonys Martin lined out softly to shortstop and Ian Kinsler struck out on three pitches to end the game.

11th-inning draw: Elvis Andrus was hit by a pitch with one out in the top of the 11th. After Alex Rios popped out, Adrian Beltre worked the count to 3-2 and lined a single into right field. Rays rookie right fielder Wil Myers made a lazy play in the ball in the outfield and Rangers third-base coach Gary Pettis made a great decision, waving Andrus in all the way. Andrus slid in ahead of the tag for a 3-2 lead. But closer Joe Nathan couldn't finish it off. He retired the toughest Rays, Evan Longoria and Myers, but had a two-out walk to Matt Joyce. Freddy Guzman stole second and scored on David DeJesus' single up the middle to tie the game at 3-3. Nathan did strike out James Loney with DeJesus on second as the winning run. It was the third blown save in 42 chances this season for Nathan.

Getting a break: The Rangers finally got a break when Jennings broke in on a line drive to center field by Leonys Martin with two outs in the top of the second. The liner sailed over Jennings' head for a two-run triple, scoring Mitch Moreland and Jurickson Profar. Moreland started the rally with a double to right field, his third consecutive game with a two-bagger. After Jim Adduci struck out, Profar drew a two-out walk setting up Martin.

Rays get one, too: The Rangers gave their third-inning break back in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Delmon Young hit a double-play ball to shortstop. Profar, playing second base with Ian Kinsler getting the day off in the field as the designated hitter, took the flip from Andrus and made a poor throw to first base that pulled Moreland off the bag. Derek Holland then gave up a two-run home run to Sean Rodriguez, his sixth of the season, to tie the game at 2-2.

Holland is better: Holland came into the game with an 0-3 record and 10.13 ERA and hadn't won since Aug. 4. He had a shutout going until the sixth inning, working around two-out trouble in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Holland threw only 72 pitches and was out of the game after six innings.

Bats go silent: A.J. Pierzynski started the fourth inning with a single off the glove of Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist and the Rangers' offense went cold. Tampa Bay pitchers retired the next 14 Rangers in a row before Andrus had a line drive single with two outs in the top of the eighth. The Rangers followed up Andrus' single with the next seven batters making outs against Rays relievers.

Tough series for Rios: The Rangers' No. 3 and 4 hitters are struggling against Rays pitching. Alex Rios hasn't delivered in the all important three-hole in this series. He was 0-for-5 on Wednesday night and he's 2-for-14 with no RBIs for the three games.

Scheppers keeps rolling: Tanner Scheppers had the difficult task of facing the heart of the Tampa Bay order in the bottom of the eighth with the score tied 2-2, but he got through it. After he got Zobrist and Longoria to fly out but then drilled Myers, Scheppers bounced back to get pinch hitter Joyce to pop out to third base.

Up next: The Rangers wrap up the four-game series with Tampa Bay with ace Yu Darvish (12-9, 2.79 ERA) facing Rays left-hander Matt Moore (15-3, 3.11) at 6:10 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM and 1540-AM.