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Rays cruise past Rangers to win AL tiebreaker

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Tampa Bay Rays waited two years for payback against the Texas Rangers.

On Monday night, in the tiebreaking game for the second American League wild-card spot, the Rays got it.

Evan Longoria and David Price powered Tampa Bay into the postseason with a 5-2 win over Texas at Rangers Ballpark.

"To be able to do it here and do it against this team really says a lot about these guys," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, dripping in Champagne.

The Rays (92-71) move on to American League wild-card game Wednesday night against the Indians in Cleveland. Tampa Bay is in the playoffs for the fourth time in the past six years, the second time as a wild-card entrant.

The Rays got a measure of revenge against Texas, which beat Tampa Bay in the AL Division Series in both 2010 and 2011.

The Rangers, bidding for a fourth straight postseason appearance, won seven consecutive regular-season games to force their way into the tiebreaker.

"I'm disappointed," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We didn't get it done. I've got no excuse for that."

Going into the game, Longoria said the Rays "had something to prove in Texas," referring to the previous postseason losses. Longoria proved it with three hits, including a two-run homer, and two runs.

Price (10-8) also exorcised a few demons. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner threw a complete game to double his career win total against the Rangers. He began the night 1-7 with a 6.62 ERA against Texas in the regular season and postseason combined.

"It was all about David," Maddon said. "That was his best game against this club. That was his best game in this ballpark."

The left-hander, who went the distance for the fourth time this season, allowed seven hits and one walk. He struck out four.

"That's what an ace does," Longoria said. "That's what a leader of a staff does. It was awesome to watch."

The Rangers admitted they placed too much pressure on themselves by going 5-15 to start September. Texas entered the month leading the AL West.

"It's a tough position to be in," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "Even if you win tonight, you've got to go win another game in Cleveland and get ready for Boston. That's nine straight games you have to win dating back to the seven we won at the end of the season. I felt like we just probably gave too many games away this year."

Texas rookie starter Martin Perez (10-6) gutted through 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits before being replaced by Alexi Ogando.

The Rays immediately got to Ogando. Longoria doubled to right and scored on pinch hitter David DeJesus' two-out single to right, increasing Tampa Bay's lead to 4-1.

The Rangers (91-72) got a run back in their next at-bat. Elvis Andrus singled with one out, stole second and scored on Alex Rios' double off the wall in left.

Perez got off to a nervous start in the biggest outing of his young career. The first four Tampa Bay batters reached base, prompting a visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux.

Perez received some help. Desmond Jennings drilled the game's first pitch into left for a hit, but he was thrown out by Craig Gentry trying to stretch the single into a double.

Two singles and a walk followed to load the bases for Delmon Young, who brought Wil Myers home with a sacrifice fly. Perez struck out Sean Rodriguez out to end a shaky inning down just 1-0.

Adrian Beltre opened the second with a double into the right field corner, but he was left stranded. Nelson Cruz, who came up with one out, was greeted by a thunderous ovation and fans waving their giveaway free towels. He lined out to first.

The Rays upped their lead to 3-0 in the third on Longoria's 32nd home run of the season. The two-run shot sailed into the Rangers' bullpen in right-center and scored Jennings.

"I didn't know much about Martin," Longoria said. "I was looking for a fastball and he made a mistake. I didn't have another game plan."

Texas got a run back in the bottom of the third. Gentry, who led off with a single that ate up shortstop Yunel Escobar, scored on Kinsler's one-out bloop single.

Kinsler was the only Ranger to collect two hits.

NOTES: Cruz, who served a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing-drug scandal, was activated before the game and went 0-for-4. Manager Ron Washington slotted him sixth in the batting order as the designated hitter. "Having him in that lineup extends it, and it's another threat," Washington said. Cruz led the Rangers in home runs and RBIs when Major League Baseball handed down the suspension Aug. 5. ... The game was the 10th one-game tiebreaker in baseball history, with seven coming in the past 19 seasons. It was also the fourth tiebreaker for the wild card, the first in the American League.
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