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Rays fall to Jays, tied with Texas in playoff race

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- The Tampa Bay Rays have gone down to the final day of the regular season in their quest for a postseason spot.

The Toronto Blue Jays put them in that position by beating the Rays for the second game in a row, winning 7-2 on Saturday to further confuse the American League wild-card race.

Tampa Bay is now tied with Texas for the second wild-card berth. The Rangers beat the Angels Saturday afternoon.

"We've been here before, we've been in these moments," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We never do things seemingly easily so let's just play tomorrow and see what happens."

Adam Lind drove in three runs and left-hander J.A. Happ pitched into the eighth inning for Toronto before a crowd of 33,232 at Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays (74-87) put the game away when rookies Ryan Goins and Kevin Pillar each hit two-run homers in the fifth.

The Rays (90-71) are still trying to lock up one of the two American League wild-card spots.

"I'm excited for tomorrow," Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said. "We like to make it interesting, that's for sure."

"It's a good way to finish it," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We'd like to come back and get one more win tomorrow. That's what it's all about. We'd rather be in their position, no doubt about that. It's good for baseball, I know that."

Rays right-hander Chris Archer lasted only 2 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, one walk and one run, and did not factor in the decision.

"We have guys who never say never," Archer said. "It'll be fun. It's fitting to end the season with tomorrow such a big situation. It's fitting for us, and I think that we'll prevail."

Happ (5-7) held the Rays to five hits, one walk and one run while striking out four in 7 1/3 innings.

"We're trying to win no matter what," Happ said. "There's no spite, it's just you're trying to win a ball game. We made some nice plays today and got some big hits. That's a good recipe for a win."

"We just have not been able to break through on their pitching," Maddon said. "We have to be able to do that tomorrow. On the other side, we've got to pitch like we normally do. The only scenario is whatever helps us win tomorrow. That's the only scenario that matters. And then you just react to everything else. We win that game tomorrow, they'll tell us where we're going next."

It was Happ's first win since Sept. 7 and ended a winless span of three starts in which he had two losses and a no-decision. But he has shown improvement with a slightly lower arm slot in his past three starts.

"It's helped with my command being a little more consistent," Happ said. "The ball is coming out a little bit better. The best thing, it doesn't feel like as much effort. This arm slot allows me to be a little bit more free, a little more smooth and it's more comfortable."

"He lowered it a little bit, nothing extreme," Gibbons said. "What I've seen so far is that it has made his breaking ball better and his cutter has some good, hard action on that thing. Overall it's a great way to finish for him. He can go into the offseason feeling confident and healthy."

The Rays led 1-0 in the first after a leadoff double by Ben Zobrist and a one-out single by Wil Myers.

The Blue Jays tied it in the third on consecutive singles by Jose Reyes, Brett Lawrie and Lind. After Archer struck out Moises Sierra, he was replaced by left-hander Alex Torres (4-2).

Lind singled in two more runs in the fourth on a cue shot down the third-base line against right-hander Jamey Wright to give Toronto a 3-1 lead. Wright took over with two outs after Torres allowed a bunt single to Ryan Langerhans and an infield single to Pillar. Wright walked Lawrie before facing Lind.

"Just a bad day today," Wright said. "I wasn't throwing strikes, wasn't throwing my pitches where I wanted, behind in the count. Bad things happen when you get behind in the count."

The Blue Jays increased their lead to 7-1 in the fifth with a pair of two-run homers. Goins extended his hitting streak to a career-best nine games with his two-run homer against Wright. The second career homer for the rookie second baseman scored Anthony Gose, who led off with a single. Wright allowed a single to Langerhans and, after striking out Josh Thole, was replaced by Brandon Gomes, who gave up Pillar's third homer of the season and of his career.

The Rays scored a run in the ninth against Dustin McGowan on a double by Myers, who advanced on a fly ball and scored on Delmon Young's groundout.

NOTES: Lind (back tightness) returned to the Blue Jays lineup Saturday as DH after missing two games. ... INF Munenori Kawasaki batted for Lind in the fifth. ... Goins also had an eight-game hitting streak this season Aug. 23-31, which opened his major-league career. ... Rays SS Yunel Escobar (sore left ankle) returned Saturday after missing three starts. ... Rays CF Desmond Jennings (tight left hamstring) missed his sixth consecutive start Saturday. He did pinch-hit in the eighth. ... The teams finish the regular season Sunday with LHP Matt Moore (16-4, 3.23 ERA) starting for Tampa Bay against Toronto RHP Todd Redmond (4-2, 3.77 ERA).
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