Beltre's three homers put Texas back in ALCSOct 5, 2011 - 1:10 AM
Tampa Bay rallied for a run in the bottom of the ninth, but Rangers reliever Neftali Feliz got Desmond Jennings to ground into a fielder's choice with the potentially tying run on base, securing the series-clinching win.
The Rangers won the best-of-five Division Series against Tampa Bay, 3-1, beating the Rays in the ALDS for the second consecutive season. Last year, Texas won all three games played in St. Petersburg and used two victories at Tropicana Field to advance this season.
"This is one of those moments where you just credit the other team," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "You don't criticize your group, you don't point fingers. The other team was really good, too, and they beat us."
The Rangers advanced to face the winner of the other ALDS between the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers. Game 1 of the ALCS is Saturday night.
Beltre's third blast was the decisive run, and he became the sixth player in history to hit three homers in a postseason game. He is the first to do so since Adam Kennedy hit three for the Angels in Game 5 of the 2002 ALCS.
"I think besides my first hit in the big league this is right up there, just because my team needed every bit of it to win the game tonight," Beltre said when asked where his performance ranked personally. "And that means something."
Ian Kinsler started Texas' power display by homering on the second pitch of the game.
Casey Kotchman drove in two runs, including one in the ninth, but the Rays couldn't find the comeback magic that propelled them into the playoffs in the first place.
They clinched the AL wild card after erasing a nine-game deficit, as well as a seven-run hole against the Yankees on the final day of the regular season. They won in the 12th inning on Evan Longoria's second homer of the game.
However, Longoria went 0-for-4 Tuesday, when the Rays failed to put together any significant rally against Texas starter Matt Harrison. Making his first career playoff start, Harrison (1-0) yielded two runs in five innings, and struck out nine to avoid big jams.
But by the time he allowed his first run, the Rays were already trailing.
Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson (0-1) made his first postseason appearance and gave up a run moments after the game started. He left an 0-1 off-speed pitch up in the zone to Kinsler, who hammered it to left field.
Hellickson left another pitch up to Beltre an inning later. The third baseman led off the second and crushed the fastball, which was slightly inside, to left, making it a 2-0 game.
Tampa Bay got on the board in the bottom half, when Sean Rodriguez walked and raced around to score on Matt Joyce's double. Rodriguez was safe on a collision at the plate after catcher Mike Napoli couldn't hang on to the ball.
But Beltre got the run back in the fourth, when he took a Hellickson fastball the opposite way and over the right field wall. Hellickson allowed only one other hit in his four-inning start.
Because none of the homers came with anybody on base, Texas' lead was slim and the Rays stayed in the game. Kotchman singled in Rodriguez, who had doubled, in the home half of the fourth to pull Tampa Bay within a run.
But Harrison fanned Joyce to end the inning and worked around a leadoff walk to Jennings to pitch a scoreless fifth.
The Rays didn't get anything going offensively against the Rangers' bullpen. Derek Holland pitched a scoreless sixth before Beltre sent his third homer out of the park.
Rays rookie Matt Moore -- the Game 1 starter and winner -- had thrown two scoreless innings before taking the mound again in the seventh. But his first- pitch fastball stayed up, and Beltre slugged it to left for a 4-2 contest.
Holland and Mike Adams pitched a scoreless seventh before Alexi Ogando worked a 1-2-3 eighth.
Feliz got into trouble with a one-out walk to Rodriguez, who moved to second on defensive indifference and crossed the plate when Kotchman singled through the right side.
But Feliz got Joyce to foul out to third, and Jennings hit a soft grounder to second baseman Kinsler, who flipped to shortstop Elvis Andrus to clinch the series.
Beltre had not homered in 28 previous postseason plate appearances...The Rays lost their third consecutive playoff series. They fell to the Phillies in the 2008 World Series before losing to the Rangers last year...The Rangers became the third team to have won more than four consecutive division series road games -- Atlanta won eight straight from 1995-99, and the New York Yankees had a run of five in a row from 2003-05.
- TEXAS: 4
TAMPA BAY: 3
Oct 4 5:14 PM
- Casey Kotchman single to right scored Sean Rodriguez. Runner on first with one out and Matt Joyce due up.
Rangers 4, Rays 3 Bot 9, 1 OutOct 4 5:08 PM
- Adrian Beltre lead off Home Run 3 (3) to left. Mike Napoli due up.
Rangers 4, Rays 2 Top 7, 0 OutsOct 4 4:04 PM
- Casey Kotchman single to center scored Sean Rodriguez. Runner on first with two outs and Matt Joyce due up.
Rangers 3, Rays 2 Bot 4, 2 OutsOct 4 3:24 PM
- Adrian Beltre one-out, solo Home Run 2 (2) to right. Mike Napoli due up.
Rangers 3, Rays 1 Top 4, 1 OutOct 4 3:08 PM
- Matt Joyce double to center scored Sean Rodriguez. Runner on second with two outs and Desmond Jennings due up.
Rangers 2, Rays 1 Bot 2, 2 OutsOct 4 2:43 PM
- Adrian Beltre lead-off Home Run (1) to left. Mike Napoli due up.
Rangers 2, Rays 0 Top 2, 0 OutsOct 4 2:26 PM
- Ian Kinsler lead-off Home Run (1) to left. Elvis Andrus due up.
Rangers 1, Rays 0 Top 1, 0 OutsOct 4 2:08 PM
- TEXAS: 0
TAMPA BAY: 0
Top 1, 0 Outs
Oct 4 2:08 PM
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