ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Desmond Jennings had a long wait to make up for his mistake. But his slate is officially clean.
Jennings singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning Wednesday as the Tampa Bay Rays took back the top American League wild card spot with a 4-3 win at Tropicana Field.
The walk-off, the 11th this season for the Rays and the second for Jennings, atoned for a defensive miscue hours earlier that had given Texas a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
"It definitely felt good to win a game after that," Jennings said. "If I wouldn't have misplayed it. I'd still have been thinking about helping the team out, but I definitely wanted to redeem myself a little bit."
Jose Lobaton started the rally off Joseph Ortiz (2-2). Pinch-runner Sam Fuld took second on a Yunel Escobar sacrifice bunt and scored well ahead of a throw from right fielder Alex Rios after Jennings (3-for-5) took a pitch to the opposite field.
Brandon Gomes (2-1) earned the win after striking out the one batter he faced.
"We had people in the game we wanted in there and we just couldn't shut the game down," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Tampa Bay (83-68) entered the game tied with the Rangers (82-69) for the top spot. Texas has lost seven of eight.
Texas was one strike from wresting the top American League wild card from the Rays but David DeJesus' single up the middle off closer Joe Nathan scored recent call-up Freddy Guzman from second to tie the game, 3-3, in the 11th.
"I didn't throw a bad pitch," Nathan said. "Could it have been better? Sure. But I'll take my chances with that pitch more times than not."
Guzman had pinch run after Matt Joyce walked with two outs and stolen second base.
"I want to believe this game has to give us some kind of impetus moving forward," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. That's real tough -- you've got two out and nobody one base against their closer and then furthermore you get to two strikes on the hitter and the new guy steals second base -- that doesn't happen every day. All that stuff, I want to believe is going to give us some kind of push."
Elvis Andrus' heady play in the top of the 11th had put Texas ahead, 3-2. Andrus reached base after being hit by an Alex Torres pitch and scored all the way from first with two out when Adrian Beltre sprayed a liner to right-center. Rookie Wil Myers fielded the ball as Andrus rounded second base and threw leisurely to cutoff man Ben Zobrist, who seemed surprised to see Andrus was headed home. Andrus (2-for-4) slid home easily ahead of the throw for a 3-2 lead.
"That's a lesson learned," Maddon said of Myers' mistake. "I'm grateful it was learned in a win and not a loss. But that's something I would want to believe he'll never do again."
Texas had runners on second and third with one out in the 12th.
Texas took the lead in the second inning when center fielder Jennings misplayed a Leonys Martin liner into a two-run triple. Mitch Moreland began trouble for Rays starter Chris Archer with a one-out double and Profar drew a four-pitch walk with two outs before Martin lined a ball that the normally slick-fielding Jennings broke in on, only to have it sail over his head.
Tampa Bay threatened in the fourth but Delmon Young -- on first with a single -- had to be held at third on Sean Rodriguez's double and Rangers starter Derek Holland retired James Loney to end the inning.
Holland had apparently eluded peril again in the sixth when Young bounced into what appeared to be an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, but second baseman Jurickson Profar's throw to first base drew Moreland off the bag. Rodriguez punished Texas by blasting a two-run homer -- his fifth of the season -- to left field to tie the game at two.
Maddon immediately turned the game over to the bullpen with Archer having allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts in six innings. Holland also departed after six, allowing two runs on six hits, and for the 15th time in 31 starts, receiving two runs or less in run support. The left-hander entered the game 0-3 with a 10.31 ERA in three September starts.
NOTES: The Rays and Rangers are attempting to become the fourth and fifth teams to endure slumps of 4-13 or worse in the final six weeks of a season and attain playoff berths. ... The Rays transferred OF Brandon Guyer (finger) from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL to make room for OF Freddy Guzman, whom they selected off the Durham roster on Wednesday. ... 2B Ian Kinsler (0-for-6) started at DH as the Rangers continue to struggle for production at the spot. Lance Berkman was DH the previous two days but continues to be mired in an 0-for-22 morass. Profar (0-for-4) started at second in his first action in a week. Washington said he expects Jeff Baker to DH on Thursday against LH Matt Moore. Texas traded DH Michael Young to Philadelphia for minor leaguers this offseason. ... Martin's second-inning triple gave him two doubles, a triple and homer in a six-at-bat stretch against the Rays.