Playoff Series: Game 3 of 5

Texas leads 3-2 (as of 10/9)

Game 1: Wednesday, October 6
Tampa Bay1
Game 2: Thursday, October 7
Tampa Bay0
Game 3: Saturday, October 9
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Game 4: Sunday, October 10
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Game 5: Tuesday, October 12
Tampa Bay1

Rays 6


    5:07 PM ET, October 9, 2010

    Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas 

    123456789 R H E
    TB 000001023 6 11 0
    TEX 001000101 3 6 0

    W: J. Benoit (1-0)

    L: D. Oliver (0-1)

    Rays shake early deficit to down Rangers and stave off elimination

    Associated Press

    ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers Ballpark was buzzing in anticipation of a long-awaited celebration and the Tampa Bay Rays had been dreadful at the plate.

    Five outs from elimination, the Rays changed everything -- and get to play another day.

    "The fight showed up again, and that's a good sign," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.

    John Jaso lined a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning after Carlos Pena had already delivered a rare clutch playoff hit for the Rays, who avoided elimination in the AL division series with a 6-3 victory Saturday over the Texas Rangers.

    "I was so nervous, hoping we didn't get swept," said Carl Crawford, who homered for the Rays. "I feel so much better. It feels like we're winning the series right now."

    Limited to a total of one run and eight hits while losing the first two games at home, Tampa Bay broke loose in the late innings.

    The Rays, the AL's best team in the regular season, forced Game 4 on Sunday. A win would keep them alive for a deciding game in the best-of-five series Tuesday at Tropicana Field, where Texas had two impressive victories to start the series.

    Ian Kinsler's leadoff homer in the seventh that put Texas up and appeared to set the stage for a series-clinching victory 50 seasons in the making. With the record crowd of 51,746 still hyped, Dan Johnson doubled off the wall with one out in the Rays eighth. Pena followed with an RBI single that made it 2-all.

    "The whole attitude in the dugout, the spirit, everything, just came to life," Maddon said. "More like us."

    Then Texas manager Ron Washington made a curious move bringing in All-Star closer Neftali Feliz in the eighth inning of a tie game. The hard-throwing righty set a major league rookie record with 40 saves in the regular season.

    Feliz walked Jason Bartlett, the No. 9 hitter, before Jaso's liner to center gave the Rays their first lead in the series.

    "I was going to use him on Jaso anyway," Washington explained, adding that Feliz would have pitched the ninth anyway.

    Crawford led off the ninth with a homer to chase Feliz, and Pena added a two-run shot off reliever Dustin Nippert.

    While Texas is still the only current major league franchise that has never won a postseason series, the Rays are trying to do what's only been done once before.

    Of the 16 teams before this year to lose the first two games of a division series at home, only the 2001 New York Yankees have swept the next three games to advance. They did it against Oakland.

    "We didn't want this to be our last game," Crawford said.

    The AL West champion Rangers, in their 39th season in Texas after 11 seasons as the Washington Senators, still have never won a home playoff game (0-5). They won at Yankee Stadium in their first-ever playoff game in 1996, then lost three straight games in that series before being swept in 1998 and 1999.

    "There's really no reason for us to dissect the end of the game," Rangers third baseman Michael Young said. "They came out and had some good at-bats late."

    Right-hander Wade Davis makes his playoff debut for Tampa Bay as the starter Sunday. The Rangers counter Tommy Hunter, who was 13-4 in the regular season, after they decided before the series even began that Cliff Lee wouldn't pitch Game 4 on three days' rest -- something the ace left-hander has never done.

    Tampa Bay hit only .247 for the season, lowest of any playoff team since the 1972 Oakland A's. But that was stellar compared to the .125 mark for the first two games of the series, when the Rays totaled only eight hits.

    Until B.J. Upton's RBI single in the sixth, the Rays hadn't scored in 16 innings and had gone 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position since Evan Longoria's single in the first of the series opener.

    The way the Rays had been hitting, it seemed as if the Rangers might have enough when Kinsler pulled a 386-foot shot down the left-field line off Matt Garza.

    The crowd was on its feet and waving white rally towels while cheering. In the front row near the Rangers dugout, Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan -- the team president who this summer added the title part-owner -- stood and applauded with a wide smile on his face.

    Garza was done after allowing one earned run and five hits, but the 2008 ALCS MVP was bailed out by three relievers and the surprising bats.

    Randy Choate got the only batter he faced before Joaquin Benoit worked 1 2/3 perfect innings for the victory. The only hiccup by the relievers was Rafael Soriano giving up a solo homer to Nelson Cruz in the ninth.

    Tampa Bay, which finished with 11 hits, tied the game 1-all in a strange sixth while scoring for the first time since Ben Zobrist's solo homer in the seventh of Game 1.

    Longoria led off the sixth with a walk, the third by Texas starter Colby Lewis in a span of four batters. The right-hander was done with five strikeouts and five walks.

    Derek Holland then appeared to induce an double-play grounder from Matt Joyce, but shortstop Elvis Andrus' high relay throw pulled rookie first baseman Mitch Moreland off the base just long enough for Joyce to be ruled safe. Washington came out to argue, though there was no clear replay to counter the call.

    Joyce wound up eliminating himself anyway, taking a wide turn around second when Johnson singled through to right and getting thrown out by Cruz's bullet when trying to scamper back. After Pena walked, Upton double for his first series hit.

    The Rays had stranded two runners in each of the two innings before that, when Pena hit a deep flyball to right to end the fourth, and Crawford struck out swinging on a high fastball the next inning.

    Andrus led off the bottom of the sixth with an infield hit, then got a break when he was called safe on a stolen base.

    Shortstop Jason Bartlett applied the tag and still had his glove on Andrus' leg when he came out of his slide and was straddling but not touching the base. Garza ran toward umpire Jeff Kellogg motioning toward the bag, and Maddon came out for a discussion.

    But Andrus got stranded there when Bartlett grabbed Cruz's liner for the third out.

    Moreland led off the Rangers third with an opposite-field double into the left-field corner and went to third on a passed ball by Jaso. Then Andrus, who had shown bunt the previous two pitches, knocked him home with a groundout that made it 1-0.

    "I don't think we gave them anything. I think the runs they put on the board they earned," Washington said. "The eighth and the ninth, they took it. We'll bounce back (Sunday)."

    Game notes

    Sitting in the owner's box with Chuck Greenberg and Ryan was former President George W. Bush, the team's managing general partner from 1989-94, before he was elected governor of Texas and later the 43rd U.S. president. ... Benoit was with the Rangers' organization from 1996-2009.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Game Information

    StadiumGlobe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, TX
    Attendance51,746 (107.4% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time3:38
    Weather84 degrees, sunny
    Wind5 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - Jerry Meals, First Base - Bill Miller, Second Base - Jeff Kellogg, Third Base - Mike Dimuro

    Research Notes

    From Elias: Darren Oliver set the all-time record today for longest span between postseason losses-- His last loss was 14 years and 5 days ago, to the Yankees in the 1996 ALDS. He broke the previous mark set by Grover Cleveland Alexander whose two postseason losses came 12 years 360 days apart (1915 and 1928)
    Down 2-1 heading into the 8th inning, it appeared the Rays would be eliminated. Then the offense woke up... After hitting just .146 with 2 RBI as a team through the first 25 innings, the Rays went 6-12 with 2 HR and 5 RBI in the 8th and 9th inning Saturday, as they forced a Game 4 on Sunday.
    Carlos Pena's game-tying single is the first postseason game-tying RBI to come in the eighth inning or later in Rays postseason history (admittedly a brief history, with the Rays having only made the postseason once before, in 2008)
    Ian Kinsler moves into 2nd place for career postseason home runs for the Rangers with his 2nd. The only other player with multiple home runs for them is Juan Gonzalez with 6.
    Elvis Andrus is 7th AL shortstop age 22 or younger to drive in a run in a postseason game. The others are Alex Rodriguez (1997 ALDS), Derek Jeter (1996 WS, ALCS, ALDS), Tony Kubek (1958 World Series), Dib Williams (1931 World Series), Mark Koenig (1926 World Series), and Donie Bush (1909 World Series).
    Jim Thome singled in the 2nd inning for his first hit of the series. Thome, who turned 40 in August, is the 2nd player in franchise history aged 40 or older to get a hit in a postseason game. The other is Sam Rice, who had a pinch hit single in Game 2 of the 1933 World Series at the age of 43. They were the Washington Senators in 1933. Thome is now the oldest STARTER in Twins/Senators franchise history to get a hit in a postseason game.
    From Elias: Since the Wildcard era began only two times has a team lost the first two games of a playoff series at home and comeback to win the series. It's only happened one time in a 5-game series. Both times it was the Yankees, in the 1996 World Series (7-game series) against the Braves and in the 2001 ALDS against the A's.

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