ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Texas manager Bruce Bochy liked the Rangers' response after they lost the opener of early season showdown with Tampa Bay.
Nathan Eovaldi became the majors second nine-game winner, Corey Seager had a career-high five hits and four RBIs, and the Rangers beat the Rays 8-4 on Saturday in a matchup of teams with the major leagues' top records.
Tampa Bay took Friday night's game 8-3 and limited Texas to three hits. The Rangers were coming off a 1-0 loss Wednesday to St. Louis.
“The bats woke up,” Bochy said. “This is a big game. You lose the first one, we lost two in a row, bats were kind of quiet, so big win for us today.”
Eovaldi (9-2) allowed four runs and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings, improving to 8-0 in his last 10 starts as Texas (41-22) stopped a seven-game winning streak by the Rays (47-20).
Seager hit a two-run double in a three-run third off rookie Taj Bradley (4-3) and hit a two-run homer against Jalen Beeks in a three-run fourth. He has 29 RBIs since returning from a left hamstring strain on May 17.
“Just in a good spot,” Seager said.
Francisco Mejía homered for the Rays, who dropped to 30-7 at home.
Tampa Bay's Shane McClanahan (9-1). the majors other nine-game winner, will start Sunday's rubber game of the three-game series.
“Having the Rangers come in, and what they've done so far, it's been a good test," McClanahan said. It's a lot of fun playing the best in the league, and I'm excited about tomorrow."
The announced crowd on Pride Day was 18,932. The Rays entered averaging 16,975 at home.
Retired MLB umpire Dale Scott, who came out as gay in 2014, threw the ceremonial pitch. There was a sign on the right-field wall that said “BASEBALL IS FOR EVERYONE” with everyone in rainbow colors.
Mejía got his fourth hit and second homer in nine at-bats against Eovaldi with a three-run shot in a four-run fourth that closed the Rays to 6-4.
The four-run fourth ended Eovaldi's run of 20 consecutive scoreless innings.
“He took a pretty big hit there, but he's such a tough competitor,” Bochy said. “Probably wasn't quite as sharp as he's been, we're kind of spoiled there with him, but he still went out there and found a way to win a ballgame.”
Texas took an 8-4 lead on a sixth-inning two-run double by Adolis García off José Lopez, who was making his big league debut. García has 54 RBIs, one behind of MLB-leader Yordan Alvarez.
Bradley gave up five runs, four hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings.
Texas' Nathaniel Lowe and his brother, Tampa Bay's Josh Lowe, brought out the lineup cards before the game. In the first game with both starting against each other, Josh Lowe had two doubles in four at-bats, while Nathaniel Lowe went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts and two walks.
A FAN OF CHANGE
Bochy thinks the rule changes implemented this season has brought more entertainment and pace to games.
“It's all about action,” Bochy said. “A better game.”
Rangers: RHP Spencer Howard was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock, one day after allowing four runs over one-third of an inning in his season debut. He had sidelined by a right lat strain.
Rays: LHP Josh Fleming (left elbow) will see specialist Dr. Keith Meister in Texas on Thursday,
“I guess there's a little bit more concern than what we initially thought," Fleming said.
Closer Pete Fairbanks (left hip) will throw to hitters for the second time Monday and could return later in the week.
McClanahan (9-1) faces Texas LHP Martín Pérez (6-1) on Sunday.
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