Texas Rangers' Nomar Mazara (30) celebrates with Rougned Odor after a home run. File photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For a team that came to Tropicana Field on a five-game losing streak, the Texas Rangers' three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays has been surprising but promising as Texas tries to claw back into postseason contention.
For the third day in a row, the Rangers rallied late to erase a two-run deficit and stun the Rays, ending a series sweep with a 6-5 win on Sunday at Tropicana Field.
The Rays (51-48) led 5-3 in the eighth inning, but the Rangers (48-50) got a two-run homer from Rougned Odor -- his second of the game -- to tie it, then a solo home run from Carlos Gomez off reliever Brad Boxberger (2-2) put them ahead.
"Our guys know where the urgency is to win baseball games, and to win them in the fashion we did in this set of three, comeback wins, just to show heart and grit that these guys have is a huge plus for us moving forward," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We can go home and get in front of our fans and have some of that energy."
Tampa Bay had looked to flip the script, rallying from an early 2-0 deficit for a 5-2 lead, but the bullpen, asked to come up with five innings after a short day by starter Jake Odorizzi, couldn't hold the lead. Boxberger, who came in with a 1.42 ERA, saw that balloon to 4.91 after giving up a walk to Mike Napoli, then the two home runs.
"It's tough. We just haven't been able to get it done this series," Boxberger said. "Just bad pitches. On Odor's home run, tried to go down and left it up, and on Gomez, a slider didn't get where it needed to."
The Rays entered the series with a 42-4 record when leading after seven innings but went 0-2 in those situations against Texas and lost another lead in the sixth inning Saturday.
"We just have to find a way -- we've been close these last three, but not good enough," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Tampa Bay has dropped four games in a row but remains in the thick of the American League wild-card race, which had four teams within one game of each other entering Sunday, plus the resurgent Rangers, now 2 1/2 games behind the Rays.
Matt Bush (3-4) won after pitching a scoreless seventh, with Jason Grilli pitching a 1-2-3 eighth for Texas and Jose Leclerc working around two walks in the ninth for his second save, striking out Steven Souza Jr. with two on to end the game.
"An amazing feeling," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "That's what it's all about for us right now -- don't give up until the last opportunity. Today, we did it again."
The Rays had taken control Sunday with three runs in the fourth off Rangers starter Tyson Ross. The biggest hit came on a two-run double by Mallex Smith.
Texas jumped ahead 2-0 in the second inning against Odorizzi, as Adrian Beltre tripled and scored on Napoli's sacrifice fly, with Odor following with a solo home run -- his 18th of the season -- off the catwalk. Odorizzi left with the lead but didn't last long enough to be eligible for the win, giving up a home run in his 15th straight appearance to extend his team record.
The Rays, who blew 3-1 leads in 4-3 losses each of the previous two days, bounced back, tying the score in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Adeiny Hechavarria and then a run-scoring double play for a 2-2 score.
Ross ran into trouble in the fourth, giving up a walk to Souza and single to Shane Peterson. The Rays executed a double steal, and a walk loaded the bases for Smith, whose two-run double made it 4-2. Texas got an out at the plate, but a bases-loaded walk to Brad Miller extended the Rays' lead to 5-2.
Joey Gallo hit a solo home run -- his 23rd of the season -- to cut the Rays' lead to 5-3, and Odorizzi walked the next two batters, with Erasmo Ramirez taking over. He got Beltre to pop out to the catcher and struck out Napoli to end the inning.
NOTES: The Rays acquired RHP Sergio Romo from the Los Angeles Dodgers after Saturday's game to bolster their bullpen, but he had not joined the team before Sunday's game. A roster move will be made to make room for him once he arrives. ... Rangers C Robinson Chirinos suffered a left ankle sprain on a collision at the plate in the fourth inning and was replaced by Jonathan Lucroy. He'll get a precautionary X-ray to check on the severity of the injury. ... Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre had two singles, giving him 2,789 hits for his career, closing in on Roberto Clemente (3,000) for 30th on baseball's all-time list.