St. Petersburg, FL – A misplay by Desmond Jennings put Tampa Bay in an early hole Wednesday night. He donned the hero hat in the end after his 12th-inning single gave the Rays a 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers in a battle for top billing in the AL wild-card race.
The Rays had tied the game an inning earlier after another mistake allowed the Rangers to take a 3-2 lead in the top of 11th.
Elvis Andrus never stepped off the gas as he scored from first base on Adrian Beltre's two-out single to the gap in right-center field. Tampa Bay rookie right fielder Wil Myers appeared to be caught off guard, not thinking Andrus would attempt to score, and leisurely lobbed the ball to the cutoff man.
"I should have been more aware of the situation and who was running," Myers said. "I should have charged the ball with more aggressiveness. It's one of those things you learn from and don't let happen again."
Myers was taken off the hook as the Rays rallied in the home 11th. Texas closer Joe Nathan retired the first two batters before walking Matt Joyce. Pinch-runner Freddy Guzman then stole second and scored on David DeJesus' single up the middle.
After Brandon Gomes (2-1) struck out Ian Kinsler with runners on second and third in the top of the 12th, Jose Lobaton greeted Joseph Ortiz (2-2) with a base hit. After a sacrifice bunt by Yunel Escobar, pinch-runner Sam Fuld scored on Jennings' liner to right.
"We still have 11 games left, and right now, we're still in the postseason," said Nathan about the tough loss. "We still have plenty of baseball to go."
Chris Archer gave up two runs and four hits with a walk and six strikeouts over six innings for Tampa Bay, which now has a one-game lead over Texas atop the wild-card standings. The Rangers remained a half-game ahead of Cleveland for the second spot.
In the second, Leonys Martin hit a line drive to center over the head of Jennings, who initially charged the ball before backpedaling in vain. Martin was credited with a two-out triple that scored Mitch Moreland, who doubled, and Jurickson Profar, who walked.
Texas starter Derek Holland kept Tampa Bay off the board until his defense was unable to turn a double play that would have ended the sixth. Profar pulled Moreland off first base with an inaccurate throw. The next batter, Sean Rodriguez, tied the game with a two-run homer to left.
Holland, who allowed six hits over six innings, is winless in eight straight starts, the longest drought of his career ... Jennings had three hits.