ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Jason Bartlett beating an ill-advised throw to second base keyed Tampa Bay's comeback victory over Texas' Cliff Lee.
Carlos Peña hit a tiebreaking single during a four-run eighth inning and the Rays rallied to beat Lee and the Texas Rangers, 6-4, on Monday night in a potential playoff preview.
Rangers second baseman Joaquin Arias couldn’t track down B.J. Upton’s one-out bloop double that started the Rays’ rally. Bartlett reached on an infield single and easily beat Arias’ throw to second on Carl Crawford’s fielder’s choice grounder.
“We didn’t catch the popup, we didn’t get the out when we should have got it,” manager Ron Washington said. “There were too many outs that were supposed to be outs that didn’t happen, and that was the game right there.”
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Tampa Bay moved into a tie for first place in the AL East with the New York Yankees. The Rays own a 51/2-game cushion in the wild-card standings.
“It was kind of a nice win, wasn’t it?” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Throughout all that good stuff, the one thing I really want to point out is Jason Bartlett beating the force play at second. That was the biggest event for us to win that baseball game.”
Lee outlasted David Price in a matchup of All-Star aces and was given a late lead when Texas scored twice in the top of the eighth to go up 4-2. But Crawford hit a run-scoring grounder and Evan Longoria tied it with a single before Peña, just off the disabled list, made it 5-4. Ben Zobrist added an RBI single that chased Lee (10-6).
“It was kind of a blur of an inning,” Lee said. “Things kind of fell apart. I don’t know why. It was a strange inning.”
The left-handed former Mariners pitcher allowed six runs, nine hits and one walk while striking out 10 over 72/3 innings.