ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays kept pace in the AL East, thanks to a late big hit and a couple of breaks.
Carlos Pena hit a tying single with two outs in the ninth inning for Tampa Bay, then shortstop Brandon Wood's throwing error with two outs in the 10th gave the Rays a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night."It was a really entertaining game and we're playing that kind of entertaining game way too often," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "When you win it, it's beautiful."
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The Rays stayed one-half game behind New York in the AL East, and continued to hold a sizable lead over Boston in the wild-card race. Tampa Bay has played six straight one-run games, winning three."This is big game for us," Rays shortstop Reidn Brignac said. "We let one slide away [Friday night]. We bounced back and made some plays."Brignac opened the Rays' 10th with a double off Bobby Cassevah (0-2), and pinch-runner Jason Bartlett went to third on John Jaso's grounder.Slumping Ben Zobrist walked, Carl Crawford popped out and Evan Longoria was intentionally walked to load the bases.Willy Aybar hit a grounder on a full-count pitch up the middle that Wood fielded, but he made a wild throw that bounced well in front of and past first baseman Mike Napoli, who failed to made a difficult backhand scoop."How about it?" Maddon said, "It's the most grinding win I think I've been associated with here, ever."Wood hit a ninth-inning tiebreaking homer in the Angels' 4-3 win over Tampa Bay on Friday."I caught it, kind of rushed it a little bit and threw it a bit open instead of closing up, and when you do that you spike in the dirt," Wood said.Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said the play was not a routine one."He went a long way," Scioscia said. "I thought he got a really good break on it. He was throwing against the grain a little bit."Tampa Bay made it 3-all on Pena's single off Fernando Rodney in the ninth. The rally started when Dan Johnson beat the closer's throw for a two-out infield single that went about 30 feet. Matt Joyce singled to right before Pena's key hit."That's why this team is so different," Bartlett said. "It started with a ball off the end of the bat and Dan beats it out. That's our game. We're not going to hit the towering home runs all the time. We do it by speed and playing the game right."Brignac put the Rays up 2-0 with a two-run homer in the fifth.Rafael Soriano (3-2) threw a perfect 10th.Juan Rivera ended a stretch of 19 consecutive scoreless innings by Rays ace David Price with a three-run homer in the seventh that gave Los Angeles a 3-2 lead. Price allowed only one hit going into the seventh.Napoli walked and Howie Kendrick hit an infield single before Rivera hit his 13th homer this season."You have a 2-0 lead and you've got David pitching one of his best games and walk, dribbler, homer, come on," Maddon said.Price was coming off a start Monday night in which he and Yankees ace CC Sabathia both threw eight shutout innings in a game eventually won by the Rays 1-0 in 11 innings. The pair is lined up to face each other again Thursday night in the finale of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.Angels starter Joel Pineiro, who had been out with a strained left oblique since late July, allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. The right-hander had gone 7-1 in his previous nine starts before the injury, which occurred while the pitcher was warming up in the bullpen before a scheduled start on July 28.The Rays' first baserunner came with two outs in the fourth when Carl Crawford singled.
An MRI exam taken Friday on Los Angeles INF Erick Aybar showed he has a sports hernia. His status will be evaluated in the next few days. ... Angels RHP Scot Shields also had an MRI exam on Friday and it found inflammation in his right elbow. He hasn't pitched since Sept. 7. ... Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg attended the game. ... To get a break from playing on the artificial turf, Los Angeles RF Torii Hunter was the DH. ... Angels LHP Scott Kazmir will make his first start at Tropicana Field on Sunday since the Rays traded him to Los Angeles on Aug. 28, 2009. Kazmir said he is not sure what the crowd reaction will be. ... Tampa Bay recalled RHP Mike Ekstrom from Triple-A Durham.