Rays prevail 4-3 in 13 innings
ST. PETERSBURG – The Rays raced onto the field to celebrate their 4-3 13-inning win over the Twins that extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games, All-Star Ben Zobrist singling in Yunel Escobar with two outs to end the nearly five-hour affair.
Not that they could stay long, with barely 12 hours until the start of today’s 12:10 matinee.
“When you win a game like that there’s energy, residual energy to just carry with you home and bring back with you (the next) morning,’’ Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “When you don’t win a game like that you have to go looking everywhere for that energy.’’
Escobar started the rally off Ryan Pressly with a one-out single up the middle, then moved to second on an errant pickoff with two outs. After Luke Scott walked – “the big play,’’ Maddon said - Zobrist singled to center.
“He threw me some good pitches,’’ Zobrist said. “I’m just fortunate that he left (one) up in the zone where I could get my hands to it.’’
All that after a two-run game-tying homer in the sixth by surprise starter Kelly Johnson, a top of the ninth escape by Fernando Rodney, a spectacular leaping catch by Twins centerfielder Aaron Hicks to end the 10th , Evan Longoria’s first stolen base attempt since April 2012 – resulting in the hamstring tear that kept him out for 85 games - and a combined 35 strikeouts, a record for a Rays game, before 12,757 at the Trop.
The seven-game streak is the longest active streak in the majors, and the Rays’ longest since an eight game run last September. They’ve won 11 of 12 and 14 of 17 to improve to 52-40, a season-best 12 games over .500.
Jeremy Hellickson fronted another night of tremendous pitching by the Rays, who struck out 19 batters (two off their record) and walked one – and not until the 11th.
“Look at the overall effort of the pitching staff, it was outstanding,’’ Maddon said. “Helly was good and the bullpen they obviously all did their jobs.’
“Phenomenal,’’ Zobrist said.
Hellickson worked six solid, allowing three runs and striking out eight, the 12th consecutive game in which a Rays starter allowed three or fewer runs, and the 19th time in their last 21 games the starter worked at least six innings.
The bullpen was blazing behind him: Jake McGee struck out the side in the seventh. Joel Peralta fanned two in a 1-2-3 eighth. Fernando Rodney, after allowing two singled to start the ninth, set down the next three in order. Jamey Wright worked a clean 10th and a slightly messy 11th, getting the last out with runners on second and third. Kyle Farsnworth got four outs. And Cesar Ramos got the last two, striking out Oswaldo Arcia with the go-ahead run on third.
Though Longoria did single in the 12th and steal on his own, he still is immersed in an extended slump, 6-for-44 with no extra base hits since June 22.
The Rays were down to one reliever, Alex Torres, and no bench players, though Maddon was willing to improvise if needed. “David (Price) was already in the batting cage,’’ he said, and Wil Myers the emergency catcher. The eight Rays pitchers threw 199 pitches.
Sensing some players are tired and noting the quick turnaround, Maddon said he is going to put together “a pretty different lineup” for today’s series finale.