ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – The Tampa Bay Rays had a chance to grab some breathing room in the race for the AL wild cards.
Hurt by a shaky outing from Matt Moore, it just didn’t work out.
Moore allowed three home runs for the first time this season and Tampa Bay lost 8-2 to the Texas Rangers on Thursday night, leaving the teams tied atop the wild-card standings.
“There’s someone responsible for the damage and I’m that person,” Moore said. “Going into today I had a chance to keep us on top of the leaderboard as far as the wild card goes. It’s frustrating tonight, but we’re back at them tomorrow.”
Elvis Andrus drove in three runs as Texas salvaged a split of the four-game series. The Rangers won the season series 4-3, and each team has 10 games left.
“It looked like we’re starting to get it back together a little bit,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Moore (15-4) gave up six runs, five earned, in four innings. He had allowed just four homers total over his previous 16 starts.
Texas rebounded after losing 4-3 in 12 innings Wednesday night, a game in which closer Joe Nathan couldn’t hold a one-run lead in the 11th.
“I was impressed with them tonight after that tough loss last night for them, a great win for us,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “It was obvious tonight that they came out to play. They beat us.”
The Indians, meanwhile, pulled within a half-game of the wild-card leaders by beating Houston 2-1 in 11 innings. Cleveland has nine games left.
Yu Darvish won for the first time in seven starts since Aug. 12, surviving a 40-pitch first inning in which he hit a batter and walked three, falling behind 2-0. Darvish (13-9) made it through five innings despite walking six, throwing 109 pitches.
“The lack of the stellar performance is not the result of not putting out the effort,” Maddon said. “Even though you don’t pitch as well as you’d like to, at some point you’ve got to offensively beat someone up. We had many, many, many opportunities. Darvish is wonderful, but he was totally off of his game tonight with six walks. To not take advantage of that, that was our fault.”
Mitch Moreland, Andrus and Alex Rios homered against Moore in the third inning to put the Rangers ahead to stay.
Craig Gentry had four of the Rangers’ 16 hits and three of their five stolen bases, the most against the Rays this season.
Andrus’ homer was his second of the series and his fourth of the season, all since Aug. 10. Moreland, the only left-handed hitter in the Texas lineup, hit his 23rd and it was No. 17 for Rios. Geovany Soto added his eighth homer off Cesar Ramos in the ninth.
The Rangers were down 2-1 when Moreland led off the third with long drive to left-center. Following Ian Kinsler’s flyout to the warning track in left, Andrus and Rios hit consecutive home runs to left.
NOTES: Rays SS Tim Beckham, the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, singled as a pinch hitter in his major league debut. … Texas OF Nelson Cruz (suspension) has started playing games with the Rangers’ instructional league team in Arizona. … Tampa Bay sent Class-A LHP Matthew Spann to Washington as the player to be named in an August 23 trade in which the Rays obtained OF David DeJesus. … Rays rookie OF Wil Myers got his first haircut since spring training, which garnered a lot of attention in the clubhouse. “He told me he paid $14 for it, and that’s $14 too much,” said pitcher David Price. … Tampa Bay RHP Jesse Crain (right shoulder strain) threw 26 pitches in an instructional league game. The Rays expect to activate him soon.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)