Rangers 4, Devil Rays 3

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Robinson Tejeda gave the Texas Rangers a big lift heading into a key series.

Tejeda won his second consecutive start since being called up from minor leagues and Carlos Lee hit a solo homer, helping the Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 4-3 Thursday night and avoid a four-game sweep.

“It’s the second time he’s gone out and pretty much did everything he could to give our offense some breathing room,” Rangers shortstop Michael Young said.

Tejeda (3-3) gave up two runs and five hits in a career-high 7 2-3 innings. He was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma on Saturday to make a start that day and earned a spot in the rotation after giving up one run over 6 2-3 innings in a 3-1 win over Detroit.

“I don’t go into the game thinking about pitching to win,” Tejeda said. “I just try to go inning by inning, hitter by hitter, trying to do the best I can.”

Tejeda is 2-0 against the Devil Rays this season. He also beat Tampa Bay in his Texas debut on May 2.

Lee hit a two-out drive and Hank Blalock had an RBI double to put the Rangers ahead 2-0 in the first, and Texas never gave up the lead.

Akinori Otsuka pitched the ninth and got his 27th save for the Rangers, who are seven games behind AL West-leading Oakland. Texas hosts the Athletics in a three-game series beginning Friday night.

“It’s already forgotten,” Young said of the Tampa Bay series. “We have a new challenge in front of us. We’re playing a team that’s leading our division, so we have to come out and play our best baseball. We’re confident we can respond well.”

Carl Crawford led off with a triple in the ninth and scored on Greg Norton’s sacrifice fly. Travis Lee and Jorge Cantu singled with two outs before Otsuka struck out Russell Branyan on a 3-2 pitch.

“We hung in there, and I felt us coming back,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “I really felt that happening again. It was there and we just (didn’t do it).”

Branyan was traded after the game to San Diego for minor league pitcher Evan Meek and a player to be named or cash.

Lee’s homer was his third in 109 at-bats with the Rangers. Acquired from Milwaukee on July 28 in a six-player deal, he had 28 homers in 388 at-bats with the Brewers.

Tim Corcoran (4-6) allowed four runs and five hits in six innings. He is 0-6 in his last eight starts.

Young scored on Dioner Navarro’s passed ball and Mark Teixeira had a sacrifice fly that extended the lead to 4-0 during the third.

“I think Texas has got a very good ballclub,” Maddon said. “They have among the best position players in the league, man for man. I think their pitching has gotten better. They have a nice club.”

Tejeda cruised through the first four innings, throwing 34 pitches and allowing one hit. He gave up two runs in fifth on Lee’s RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Cantu. Center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. kept Cantu from getting an extra-base hit by making a running catch on the warning track.

Tejeda departed in the eighth after allowing a two-out double to Ben Zobrist and hitting Rocco Baldelli with a pitch. Wes Littleton ended the threat by inducing a grounder by B.J. Upton.

“Robbie was outstanding,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “He commanded the fastball again and established that early. He’s got a nice tempo about him. He’s an aggressive, confident-looking guy out there. Not only do we see it, but the other team sees it.”

Notes

The Devil Rays also purchased the contract of 1B-DH Kevin Witt from Triple-A Durham. He is the minor league’s top home-run hitter this season with 36. … Tampa Bay OF Jonny Gomes is to have his injured right shoulder examined Monday. Season-ending surgery is possible for Gomes, who is able to DH. … Blalock has driven in 38 runs this season with two outs. … The Devil Rays went 5-5 and drew 114,320 during a 10-game homestand. … The Rangers, 35-32 on the road, matched their road victory from all of last season.

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