Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays top Chicago White Sox 3-2

CHICAGO — Thursday could not have unfolded better for the Rays. Two of the teams ahead of them in the AL wild-card race, the A's, who hold the second spot, and the Angels, lost. And the other, the wild-card-leading Orioles, didn't win, as they were off.

And it ended even better, as the Rays ran their winning streak to a season-high and majors-long eight games with a 3-2 victory over the fading White Sox.

The Rays went ahead on a ninth-inning home run by Evan Longoria on the eve of the one-year anniversary of his Game 162 heroics. Then they survived a bid for role-reversed drama as their other Game 162 star, Dan Johnson, now pinch-hitting for the Sox, lined out to start the ninth.

"We knew going in, obviously, that they lost," starter James Shields said. "We needed that win. That was a huge win for us."

Because of the matinee results, the Rays were in position to actually take control of their own destiny: They have the same number of losses as the Angels, and they still have three games remaining with the Orioles, meaning if they win the rest of their games, they would at least be in a tiebreaker playoff to get into the wild-card game. And if they win that, they would keep going.

And by the end of the night, after closer Fernando Rodney struck out dangerous Adam Dunn with a man on for his team-record 46th save, they seized it, moving within two games of the A's and three of the Orioles, with six to play.

"It brings us a little bit closer, but it doesn't guarantee anything," Longoria said. "It's a good moment for us, a good moment for me. But bottom line, it's just one game. It's a game we needed, no doubt about that."

Manager Joe Maddon didn't want to talk about the big picture at all, preferring to stick with his shtick, to this point successful, that they are merely compiling one-game winning streaks.

"Tomorrow's Friday," he said. "I want to go 1-0 on Friday. Keep the blinders on."

The game was 2-2 going to the ninth after an uneven performance from not-sharp starter Shields, who was dancing more than the rookies on Wednesday in the hazing routine he orchestrated. But he allowed only two runs while working into the seventh.

"I battled out there," Shields said.

Longoria stepped up with one out, knew from watching video that reliever Brett Myers would go to his off-speed stuff, and hit a 2-and-1 slider over the left-centerfield fence for the decisive run. It was Longoria's first go-ahead homer in the ninth inning (or later) since his 12th-inning playoff-clinching walkoff shot in Game 162 a year ago today.

"Only fitting," Shields said.

There were other big moments, such as Ben Zobrist's double that led to their first run and Luke Scott's homer for their second.

And also, Maddon pointed out, some smaller ones.

Third baseman Longoria diving to start and Jeff Keppinger turning a key double play in the third. Catcher Jose Lobaton blocking several pitches with men on. Outfielders B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce running down line drives. Reliever Jake McGee getting two more key outs. And the group effort to notice pinch-runner Jordan Danks not retouching second after an eight-inning fly out, ending a Sox threat.

"Longo always seems to be involved in the positive drama that occurs," Maddon said. "But there were a lot of little subplots in tonight's game that I liked that were more reminiscent of how we play."

Shields clearly did not have his usual command, walking four and hitting two while allowing six hits over 6 1/3 innings, and throwing only 69 of his 117 pitches for strikes. He loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth and fifth innings, and while he gave up the lead both times, he did well to allow the Sox only one run.

As much as Maddon won't annoint any win as big, he felt this one was significant for a different reason: It was the kind of game the Rays had lost so often this year. The pitching keeps them in it, the offense "disappears" and something bad happens at the end.

"We turned it around tonight," he said.

AL wild-card chase

Team W-L Pct. GB
Orioles 89-67 .571
A's 88-68 .564
Rays 86-70 .551 2
Angels 86-70 .551 2
Top two teams make postseason

GB is games behind second wild-card team

Thursday

Rays 3, White Sox 2

Rangers 9, A's 7

Seattle 9, Angels 4

Jays 6, Yankees 0

Orioles, off

Today

Rays at White Sox

Red Sox at Orioles

Yankees at Jays

Angels at Rangers

Mariners at A's

Remaining games

Rays (6): 3 vs. Orioles, 3 at White Sox

Orioles (6): 3 vs. Red Sox, 3 at Rays

A's (6): 3 vs. Mariners, 3 vs. Rangers

Angels (6): 3 at Rangers, 3 at Mariners

Tampa Bay Rays top Chicago White Sox 3-2 09/27/12 [Last modified: Friday, September 28, 2012 8:07am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Late Holy Names swimmer Cailin Cannella was a fighter until the end

    Swimming Preps

    At swim meets, Cailin Cannella would race side-by-side with her breastroke competitors, their heads bobbing in near unison.

    Holy Names swimmer Cailin Cannella, here at age 13, still was practicing last year after finding out she had osteosarcoma (bone cancer). [Times 2016]
  2. Gators roundtable: Was that really a Hail Mary?

    College

    Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks' last-second heave beat Tennessee Saturday in Gainesville, but was it a Hail Mary, typically a pass made in desperation with little chance of success? The Times' college football coveage team weighs in:

    NO, BUT IT WAS A MIRACLE

    Feleipe Franks #13 of the Florida Gators celebrates with his teammates after he threw a 63-yard pass at the end of the game to defeat the Tennessee Volunteers 26-20 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
  3. Mikhail Sergachev to debut for Lightning tonight

    Blogs

    For touted prospect Mikhail Sergachev, his audition to make the Lightning takes another big step tonight in his exhibition debut in Carolina.

    Touted prospect Mikhail Sergachev will make his exhibition debut tonight in Carolina.
  4. Commitment to change already evident for Wesley Chapel

    Footballpreps

    WESLEY CHAPEL — One stands 6 feet 9, holds numerous college offers and has already verbally committed to play at Florida State. The other goes about a foot shorter and could stand to put on a few pounds.

    Wesley Chapel's Chaz Neal (60) pumps his team up before a football game against Land O' Lakes in Wesley Chapel, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017.
  5. Rick and Tom podcast: Annoyance with the Cubs fans at Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tom Jones talks about how he shares Chris Archer's annoyance with all of the Cubs fans at Tropicana Field for Joe Maddon's return in the latest edition of our Rick and Tom podcast.

    "W" flags fly in the stands after the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Rays Tuesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]