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Tampa Bay at Texas

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Tampa Bay (37-25) «020000021590
Texas (31-33)101000011491

Rays 5, Rangers 4

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tampa Bay's pitching staff cooled off a hot-hitting lineup for the second night in a row. That's just the sort of thing good teams do.

J.P. Howell pitched two innings of hitless relief, Dan Wheeler gave up a run in the ninth but got the last four outs for a hard-earned save, and the Rays held on for a 5-4 victory over the Rangers on Saturday night.

Texas had scored eight runs or more in six straight games before running into the Rays, who have held them to four a night while winning the first two of the three-game series. Tampa Bay bounced back to take the series after being swept by Boston. Incidentally, the Red Sox are only a half game up on the Rays in the AL East.

"(The Rangers) are very hot offensively," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I have a lot of respect for them. Our pitchers have done a tremendous job against them. Wheeler had a very difficult job against the middle of their lineup. You could see he was under control. I felt good about having him out there."

Willy Aybar hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning to make it 4-2.

Reliever Joaquin Benoit allowed two runs and two hits, and walked two in one inning for the Rangers, who've lost five of their last seven.

Milton Bradley's solo homer in the eighth off Trever Miller -- his sixth in the last seven games -- made it 4-3.

In the top of the ninth, Jason Bartlett raced home on Jamey Wright's wild pitch with an insurance run.

Howell (5-0) pitched two near-perfect innings, marred only by a walk and Wheeler got his second save in two chances.

Against Wheeler in the ninth, Ramon Vazquez singled and took third on Ian Kinsler's second double of the night. After Wheeler walked Chris Shelton to load the bases major league RBI leader Josh Hamilton grounded into a fielder's choice to drive in his 69th run.

"I wanted to hit it hard somewhere," Hamilton said. "We just didn't get it done tonight."

Milton Bradley was retired on a ground ball to end the game as Wheeler breathed a sigh of relief.

"I watched these guys battle to get in a position to win," Wheeler said. "The last thing you want to do as a reliever is deprive them of that."

Normally a setup man, Wheeler is subbing for injured closer Troy Percival, and Wheeler's new role requires an adjustment.

"I try to treat the ninth inning as the eighth inning or seventh, but there's just something different about the ninth," Wheeler said. "With Percy here, the game is one inning less. We've got to make up the slack for him."

Meanwhile, the Rangers search for more consistency from a pitching staff that is last in the majors with a 5.10 ERA.

"Offense comes and goes depending on the pitching you're facing," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We just want to get (the pitching) straightened out. Those guys are capable of doing the job."

With a first-inning single, Texas' Michael Young extended his hitting streak to 22 games, longest in the majors this season and three short of his career high. Young raced home on Bradley's RBI double.

Rangers starter Scott Feldman lasted seven innings and exited with the score even at 2 after allowing five hits, striking out five and walking two.

Tampa Bay starter Andy Sonnanstine left after five innings in a 2-2 game. He gave up six hits, struck out three and walked one.

Notes

Hamilton has been bothered by viral infection for several days and is expected to get a day off on Sunday. ... Rays OF Jonny Gomes dropped his appeal and began serving his five-game suspension on Saturday night. RHP James Shields will drop his appeal after Tuesday night's start and will begin his six-game suspension on Wednesday. ... Gomes and Shields were two of five Rays suspended for a total of 23 games for their parts Thursday night's bench-clearing melee with the Red Sox. The other three Tampa Bay players -- Crawford, RHP Edwin Jackson and 2B Akinori Iawmura -- are expected to appeal before their suspensions begin later in the month. ... Bradley snapped a bat over his knee after a swinging strikeout in the fifth.

 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Players of the Game
Texas

M. Bradley
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Tampa Bay

W. Aybar
AB 4
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Tampa Bay Rays
Akinori Iwamura, 2B4000111 .269
Carl Crawford, LF5110001 .267
B.J. Upton, CF3120200 .300
Eric Hinske, DH4010114 .258
Evan Longoria, 3B4110024 .250
Willy Aybar, 1B4012011 .293
Gabe Gross, RF4112002 .230
Shawn Riggans, C4010010 .250
Jason Bartlett, SS4110011 .243
Totals3659447  
Batting
2B - B.J. Upton (17, Benoit), Evan Longoria (11, Feldman), Willy Aybar (6, Benoit)
HR - Gabe Gross (4, Feldman)
RBI - Willy Aybar 2 (4), Gabe Gross 2 (13)
2-OUT RBI - Willy Aybar 2 (3)
SB - Carl Crawford (16, 2nd base off Feldman/Saltalamacchia), Jason Bartlett 2 (12, 2nd base off Wright/Saltalamacchia, 3rd base off Wright/Saltalamacchia)
Team LOB - 8
Tampa Bay Rays
Andy Sonnanstine 5622130 4.88
J.P. Howell (W,5-0) 2000110 3.38
Trever Miller (H,7) 0.2111111 3.93
Dan Wheeler (S,2) 1.1211110 2.22
WP - J.P. Howell (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Andy Sonnanstine 86-53, J.P. Howell 36-19, Trever Miller 19-9, Dan Wheeler 22-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Sonnanstine 7-5, J.P. Howell 4-1, Dan Wheeler 2-1
Batters Faced - Andy Sonnanstine 22, J.P. Howell 7, Trever Miller 4, Dan Wheeler 7
Texas Rangers
Ian Kinsler, 2B5120003 .307
Michael Young, SS4121011 .309
    Chris Shelton, 3B-1B0000100 .215
Josh Hamilton, DH5001002 .315
Milton Bradley, RF5122023 .338
David Murphy, CF4000012 .289
Brandon Boggs, LF3010110 .277
Frank Catalanotto, 1B3000001 .283
   a- Gerald Laird, PH-3B1000001 .266
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C3000111 .257
Ramon Vazquez, 3B-SS3120101 .325
Totals3649446  
a-popped out for Catalanotto in the 8th
Batting
2B - Ian Kinsler 2 (17, Sonnanstine, Wheeler), Milton Bradley (19, Sonnanstine), Brandon Boggs (8, Sonnanstine)
HR - Milton Bradley (14, Miller)
RBI - Michael Young (32), Josh Hamilton (69), Milton Bradley 2 (43)
2-OUT RBI - Milton Bradley (14)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Kinsler-Young-Catalanotto
E - Ian Kinsler (12, Misplayed grounder)
Texas Rangers
Scott Feldman 7522251 4.31
Joaquin Benoit (L,3-2) 1222210 5.76
Jamey Wright 1211010 4.33
IBB - Hinske by Joaquin Benoit
WP - Jamey Wright (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Feldman 108-68, Joaquin Benoit 26-12, Jamey Wright 22-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Feldman 6-9, Joaquin Benoit 1-1, Jamey Wright 2-1
Batters Faced - Scott Feldman 27, Joaquin Benoit 7, Jamey Wright 6
Game Information
Attendance - 28788
Game Time - 3:07
Temperature - 93
Umpires - Home - Paul Nauert, First Base - James Hoye, Second Base - Jerry Crawford, Third Base - Brian O'Nora