Rays
Rangers
5 - 4 Final
  for this game

Aybar's clutch hit lifts Rays over Rangers

Jun 8, 2008 - 5:14 AM By John Tranchina PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas (Ticker) -- For the second straight night, the Tampa Bay Rays waited until the late innings against the Texas Rangers' bullpen to turn a close game into a convincing victory.

Willy Aybar ripped a two-run double in the eighth as the Rays scored three runs in the last two innings to snap a tie and claim a 5-4 victory Saturday night over the Rangers.

After blowing open a 3-1 game in the seventh inning one night earlier en route to a 12-4 triumph, Tampa Bay (37-25) kept pace with Boston (39-26) and remained one-half game out of first place in the American League East Division.

The Rays now have beaten the Rangers four out of five games this season.

"Late in games has been a big part of our success to this point," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "The thing is they just don't quit. We've been there late in games, and it's been somebody different every night. It was Willy tonight. Aybar has been swinging the bat very well. He was focused."

After receiving an outstanding seven-inning performance by starter Scott Feldman, Texas was again let down by its bullpen, which has already given up more runs in June - seven days in - than it did in all of May.

"I think it affects a club a lot," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of the bullpen's struggles. "If you're trying to hold on to one run and the bullpen can't keep it there, it hurts. If you're trying to hold on to a tie and they can't keep it there, it hurts. But we're all in this together and they're professionals, we just have to bounce back."

With the score 2-2 in the eighth and two out, Aybar stroked a bases-loaded double off reliever Joaquin Benoit to drive home Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton. To minimize the damage, Benoit then induced Gabe Gross to pop out, stranding two men in scoring position.

"I was looking for a pitch middle in, in that situation, and he left the ball a little bit up over the plate and I was able to connect," Aybar said through an interpreter. "I'm very very happy, but also, I'm very happy about the way the team is playing and just being able to help the team and contribute to the club and get a win, that's the big thing."

Milton Bradley got one of the runs back for Texas in the bottom of the eighth, drilling a solo home run to left off reliever Trever Miller - Bradley's sixth blast in his last seven games and 14th of the season - to pull Texas to within 4-3. It was Bradley's second RBI of the night and 15th in his last 10 games.

"It was (Josh Hamilton) for a while carrying us, now it's Milton," Washington said. "When Milton hits his slump, which he will, then it will be somebody else. That's the way it goes."

The Rays added another run in the ninth when Jason Bartlett singled, then stole second, stole third and scored when reliever Jamey Wright's wild pitch rolled to the backstop.

"The guy's already in scoring position at second base, but he's in even better scoring position at third," Maddon said. "(Stealing) was something we talked about before the inning, based on who was out there."

"I'm trying to get the hitter," Wright said. "If I'm doing my job and get him out, I'm not worried about if he steals second or steals third. But I had a wild pitch that's an easy run, especially when you let him steal second and steal third."

Texas pressed again in the ninth, loading the bases when reliever Dan Wheeler walked Chris Shelton. One run came in on Hamilton's force out to second, but Wheeler then got Bradley to ground out to pick up his second save.

"I was able to get a couple of ground balls against good hitters," Wheeler said. "I watched these guys battle for eight innings to get in a position to win. The last thing you want to do as a reliever is deprive them of that."

Reliever J.P. Howell (5-0), who pitched two scoreless innings of relief, earned the victory, while Benoit (3-2) took the loss for Texas.

"We've got a lot of good arms down there that shouldn't be giving up runs the way we are," Wright said of Texas' bullpen, which has already surrendered 41 runs in June after allowing just 32 throughout May. "We give up nine one game, eight a different game, to be having our bullpen allowing crooked numbers late in the game like that, we've got to do a better job at that."

The Rangers opened the scoring in the first inning, as Bradley, who entered the day as the AL batting leader (.337), drilled a double off the wall in left-center field to score Michael Young from first.

Young, back in the lineup after missing a game due to a hairline fracture on his left ring finger, had singled to extend his hitting streak to 22 games, the longest in the majors this season.

Young eventually left the contest in the seventh due to tightness in his left groin. It is unclear if he will miss any more action.

The Rays responded in the second to take a 2-1 advantage when Gross belted a two-run home run off Feldman, plating Longoria, who had doubled to lead off the inning.

Feldman, looking for his first victory since May 9 after three no decisions and a loss, settled down after that, retiring 10 in a row at one point. He tossed seven strong innings, surrendering just two runs and five hits while striking out five and walking two.

"He did a great job, he really did," Washington said. "Any time you can get deep into the seventh inning and get out of the seventh inning, that's what you like to see."

The Rangers evened it up again in the third when Young drove in Kinsler, who had doubled, with a single to left off Tampa Bay starter Andy Sonnanstine.

Sonnanstine, who had lost his previous two starts, pitched well for five innings, allowing two runs and six hits while striking out three and walking one, but received a no decision.








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    TAMPA BAY 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 5 9 0
    TEXAS 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 4 9 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: TAM - ANDY SONNANSTINE, J.P. HOWELL (6TH), TREVER MILLER (8TH), DAN
    WHEELER (8TH) AND SHAWN RIGGANS
    TEX - SCOTT FELDMAN, JOAQUIN BENOIT (8TH), JAMEY WRIGHT
    (9TH) A

    Jun 7 11:13 PM


  • AL
    AT TEXAS - SCORING UPDATE
    FIELDER'S CHOICE BY JOSH HAMILTON SCORED RAMON VAZQUEZ.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J HAMILTON ON FIRST, I KINSLER ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 5
    TEXAS 4 BOTTOM, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR TEXAS: M BRADLEY (.340, 2-FOR-4, HR, 2 RBI)

    Rays 5, Rangers 4  Bot 9, 0 OutsJun 7 11:12 PM
  • 35
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Rays 5, Rangers 4  Bot 9, 0 OutsJun 7 11:12 PM


  • AL
    AT TEXAS - SCORING UPDATE
    WILD PITCH BY JAMEY WRIGHT ALLOWED JASON BARTLETT TO
    SCORE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 5
    TEXAS 3 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: C CRAWFORD (.268, 1-FOR-4)

    Rays 5, Rangers 3  Top 9, 0 OutsJun 7 10:54 PM
  • 0
    roots
    RUWTbot Took away 35 roots

    Rays 5, Rangers 3  Top 9, 0 OutsJun 7 10:54 PM
  • 35
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Rays 4, Rangers 3  Top 9, 0 OutsJun 7 10:44 PM


  • AL
    AT TEXAS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY MILTON BRADLEY (14) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 8TH OFF TREVER MILLER.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 4, TEXAS 3
    DUE UP FOR TEXAS: D MURPHY (.290, 0-FOR-3)

    Rays 4, Rangers 3  Bot 8, 0 OutsJun 7 10:34 PM


  • AL
    AT TEXAS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY WILLY AYBAR SCORED CARL CRAWFORD AND B.J. UPTON.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, W AYBAR ON SECOND, E HINSKE ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 4
    TEXAS 2 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: G GROSS (.244, 1-FOR-3, HR, 2 RBI)

    Rays 4, Rangers 2  Top 8, 0 OutsJun 7 10:26 PM


  • AL
    AT TEXAS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY MICHAEL YOUNG SCORED IAN KINSLER.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M YOUNG ON SECOND, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 2
    TEXAS 2 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR TEXAS: J HAMILTON (.320, 0-FOR-1)

    Rays 2, Rangers 2  Bot 3, 0 OutsJun 7 8:56 PM


  • AL
    AT TEXAS - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY GABE GROSS (4) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 2ND OFF SCOTT FELDMAN SCORED EVAN LONGORIA.
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 2, TEXAS 1
    DUE UP FOR TAMPA BAY: S RIGGANS (.250, 3 HR, 10 RBI)

    Rays 2, Rangers 1  Top 2, 0 OutsJun 7 8:25 PM


  • AL
    AT TEXAS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY MILTON BRADLEY SCORED MICHAEL YOUNG.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M BRADLEY ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: TAMPA BAY 0
    TEXAS 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR TEXAS: D MURPHY (.294, 7 HR, 39 RBI)

    Rays 0, Rangers 1  Bot 1, 0 OutsJun 7 8:18 PM