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Manuel Margot delivers winning run as Rays beat Marlins in 10 innings

A strong start by Drew Rasmussen puts Tampa Bay in good position, but wasted chances extend the game.
The Rays' Yu Chang, right, scores on a single by Manuel Margot during the 10th inning of Wednesday's game against the Marlins in Miami.
The Rays' Yu Chang, right, scores on a single by Manuel Margot during the 10th inning of Wednesday's game against the Marlins in Miami. [ LYNNE SLADKY | AP ]
Published Sep. 1|Updated Sep. 1

MIAMI — Manuel Margot had a chance to help the Rays reclaim the lead in the eighth inning Wednesday, getting a rare bunt sign when he came up with two on and no outs. But he popped out, the rally fizzled and the game eventually went to extra innings.

Margot got another opportunity in the 10th and this time he delivered, his bloop single to rightfield the difference in a 2-1 win over the Marlins.

“I think that’s what’s the best part about this game, if you fail one at-bat, you know you might have an opportunity to have another at-bat,” Margot said via team interpreter Manny Navarro.

“And that’s what happened. I was able to stay confident and be able to have that other at-bat.”

Just to make sure the Rays hung on, Margot made a long run and leaping catch at the centerfield wall in the bottom of the 10th, then got up and made a strong throw to keep the Marlins from tying the game as the runner stopped at third.

“(Margot) comes back and (makes) probably the two plays of the game,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Player of the game. The catch was outstanding for a guy that wasn’t out there to begin with and just shifts over (from rightfield that inning).”

Said Margot, “If I just played the first (nine) innings I wouldn’t have done anything. But that inning I was able to make a difference, and I was able to get that done.”

Rays rightfielder Manuel Margot catches a ball hit by the Miami Marlins' Charles Leblanc during the 10th inning.
Rays rightfielder Manuel Margot catches a ball hit by the Miami Marlins' Charles Leblanc during the 10th inning. [ LYNNE SLADKY | AP ]

The victory improved the Rays to 72-57 as they maintained their spot atop the three-team American League wild-card field. They have won three straight, nine of 11 and an AL-best 18 of 27 in August, improving to a season-high 15 games over .500.

Now, they head home, after an off day Thursday, to begin a rugged September, They face the AL East-leading Yankees six times in 10 days and play 33 games in 34 days (with one doubleheader and two off days) to finish the season.

“Definitely a big win,’” Cash said.

Drew Rasmussen put the Rays in position to win with another strong start, allowing one run (on a game-tying homer in the sixth) over six innings, throwing 72 pitches. “Just filling up the strike zone,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think I made just one bad pitch, and they did what they were supposed to with it. Just unfortunate the timing.”

The outing capped an impressive August run in which Rasmussen went 3-1 over six starts, posted a 1.57 ERA (six earned runs), walked four and struck out 33.

“Our pitching was just outstanding again for us,” Cash said. “‘Rass’ set the tone. Feel crummy that he gave up that home run and we weren’t able to get more for him to get a win. He deserved it. But then the bullpen came in and did their thing.”

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That they did, as four relievers followed. Jalen Beeks ended the game with the tying run on third by first nodding in acknowledgment at former Rays mate Joey Wendle, then getting him to ground out.

“Love Joey Wendle. He’s a great guy. I don’t know of anybody that’s better,” Beeks said. “Right after the game, he texted me. He said, ‘That was fun, you look great, keep it up, man.’ He’s just that kind of guy. He’s one of a kind.”

The Rays had lost six of their last eight of an AL-most 18 extra-inning games, which made the victory all the sweeter — especially when they failed to convert in the eighth.

With Jose Siri and Yandy Diaz (who had three hits and was on base five times) singling to start the inning, Cash called for the bunt, a strategy they don’t often employ, and it failed. “Part of the reason we don’t bunt,” Cash said.

With Yu Chang the placed runner on second in the 10th, Marlins reliever Tommy Nance struck out Taylor Walls and pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi, then intentionally walked Diaz to bring up Margot.

“It was incredible,” Margot said. “I was telling (catcher Christian) Bethancourt that if Choi doesn’t get on they’re going to walk Yandy, so I was ready.”

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