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Big League Stew

Game 163: Evan Longoria and David Price lead Rays to wild card with 5-2 victory at Texas

David Brown
Big League Stew

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(AP)

The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Texas Rangers in Game 163 on Monday night, winning 5-2 to advance to the AL wild-card game against the Cleveland Indians. It's the fourth time in the past six seasons the Rays have reached the playoffs. Coincidentally, the past two times they made it, the Rangers knocked them out.

Evan Longoria went 3 for 4 with a walk, including a two-run homer in the third to expand Tampa Bay's lead. He has seven home runs in his career in the last game of the regular season, breaking Stan Musial's record.

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Left-hander David Price, who came in mostly bewitched by the Rangers and their ballpark, allowed two runs and seven hits in a complete game. Price picked off a runner and his move to first base also led to a caught stealing. Price also made a terrific play on Elvis Andrus' bunt in the eighth, flipping the ball to Loney with his glove for the out.

The Rangers made at least two baserunning mistakes, with Elvis Andrus getting picked off by Price (with a big assist to first baseman James Loney) in the first inning, and Ian Kinsler making a rare mistake in getting fooled by Price's move in the third. Kinsler was caught stealing.

Umpire Bruce Dreckman made an egregious mistake in the top of the seventh, crediting Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin with a catch on Delmon Young's sinking liner, when it was an obvious trap. It cost the Rays a run. Six umpires on the field, TBS broadcaster Joe Simpson noted, and it was missed.

Tanner Scheppers made a comically wild throw for an error, trying to get Sam Fuld at stealing third base. Instead, the ball got away and Fuld scored to make it 5-2.

Longoria's home run made it 3-0, giving the Rays all of the runs they'd need. Price getting Kinsler to get himself out in the bottom of the inning stifled a Rangers rally.

Price came in with a 10.26 ERA in four starts at Texas.

• Longoria = Stan the Man

• How the blown call by Dreckman will pave the way for more video replay in 2014.

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(Getty)

• The standing ovation fans gave slugger Nelson Cruz, returning from a 50-game PED suspension. He went 0 for 4 with a strikeout.

• Rays manager Joe Maddon letting Price finish the game — despite throwing 118 pitches — when it appeared the bullpen was coming in during the eighth.

"He let me go, and I appreciate it," Price told reporters.

The Rays head to Progressive Field for the wild card game Wednesday. The Rangers might be making changes, either with manager Ron Washington, GM Jon Daniels, or both. The NL wild card is Tuesday.

Don't forget to save room for the playoffs!
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