ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Taylor Walls homered, six Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a six-hitter and the Rays beat the Texas Rangers 5-1 Saturday night.
Tampa Bay remained 1 1/2 games behind Toronto for the top AL wild card. The Rays hold a 5 1/2-game advantage over Baltimore, which is fourth in the race for the three wild cards.
“It’s nice to see everything clicking at this time,” Rays reliever Jason Adam said. “It doesn’t matter if you win 11-0 like we did the other day or you won like today or you win 1-0. Just whatever it takes to get that win. We’re all bonded. We want to play until November.”
Jonah Heim homered and Jon Gray (7-7) allowed two runs and two hits over 4 1/3 innings in his second start for Texas since returning from a left oblique strain.
“I like what Jonny did tonight,” Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley said. “He was pounding the zone with his fastball. He had his breaking ball working as well. So, it was a good outing.”
The Rangers (63-82) were assured their sixth consecutive losing season. It extends the longest streak since the team moved to Texas from Washington in 1972.
Walls went deep to put the Rays up 3-1 on the first pitch from reliever Taylor Hearn, who replaced Gray in the fifth.
David Peralta, in the first, and Wander Franco, in the third, hit sacrifice flies as the Rays took a 2-0 lead. Isaac Paredes extended the advantage to 5-1 on a two-run double with two outs in the seventh against Dennis Santana.
Heim made it 2-1 with a fourth-inning leadoff homer against Ryan Yarbrough (2-8). Heim flied out to the right field warning track on a 3-2 pitch from Javy Guerra with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth.
Yarbrough allowed one run and four hits in three innings after replacing opener Shawn Armstrong with two outs in the second.
“They threw some good arms at us,” Beasley said. “Kind of a bullpen day for them. Different types of movement, different arm slots. They can make it challenging for us offensively.”
Jalen Beeks didn’t allow a baserunner in the sixth and seventh. Adam gave up a single in the eighth but hit the dirt to get out of the way of a hard-hit ball by Heim that resulted in an inning-ending double play.
“That’s a great question,” Adam said when asked how he got out of the way. “I don’t know. That was obviously a scary moment, but thankfully dodged me.”
Texas SS Marcus Semien went 2 for 4 on his 32nd birthday. … Rangers slugger Nathaniel Lowe had two hits and improved his batting average to .310. … It was the switch-hitting Walls’ first right-handed homer. He has seven left-handed. … Heim has homered in two of his last three games after going a career-long 30 games without one.
THE IN CROWD
The Rays passed 1 million fans in home attendance Friday night, which leaves Miami and Oakland as the only teams that haven’t reached the plateau this season. Tampa Bay has drawn under 1.3 million at home every year since 2015.
Rangers: RHP Joe Barlow (right index finger blister) joined RHP Spencer Howard (right shoulder impingement) on a rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Round Rock. Howard allowed six runs, four hits and three walks in three innings against El Paso.
Rays: 3B Yandy Díaz and OF Randy Arozarena were rested. … RHP Nick Anderson, who hasn’t pitched in the majors this season following right elbow surgery, has plantar fasciitis with Triple-A Durham. … Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said RHP Tyler Glasnow (Tommy John surgery) could make his third appearance with Durham on Sunday.
Texas RHP Glenn Otto (6-8) will face Rays LHP Jeffrey Springs (8-4) on Sunday.