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Monday, Oct 16, 2017
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Tampa Bay Rays

Six-run ninth leads Rays past Orioles

BALTIMORE - The closer, who was so lock-down last year, struggled in the ninth inning and the lead was gone in a flash, and the only fans who weren't booing were the ones already through the exits.

"It's always good to be on the other side of it," Evan Longoria said.

Oh yes, the Tampa Bay Rays flipped the script Saturday at Camden Yards.

This time, they let another bullpen blow a lead, rallying in the ninth inning for a 10-6 victory against the Baltimore Orioles.

"We've played that record way too many times this season. It was nice to have it play in our favor," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

The Orioles took a 6-4 lead into the ninth. Closer Jim Johnson, whose streak of 35 straight saves was stopped in his previous outing, came on with the idea of beginning a new streak.

Johnson will have to wait another day to get to work on that.

He got Luke Scott to bounce out to second base for the first out then allowed the next five batters to reach base.

Kelly Johnson homered to make it a one-run game. Jose Lobaton and Yunel Escobar both walked. Desmond Jennings reached on a broken-bat single to load the bases.

Next, a double to right by Matt Joyce scored two runs to give the Rays a 7-6 lead. Joyce, who hit a two-run homer in his second at-bat, finished with three hits and a career-high-matching five RBIs.

Ben Zobrist greeted Darren O'Day with a two-run double. Longoria reached on a double. James Loney was walked to load the bases. Scott drew a walk to force in the final run of the inning.

"Things haven't really gone our way in the late innings the first couple of months, and to turn it around against a team that has a really good bullpen and one of the best closers in the game, man that's awesome," Joyce said. "That's a real testament to the guys on the team for not giving up, not rolling over and throwing the bats out there."

It was only the second time this season the Rays won after trailing going into the ninth inning.

The comeback was made possible by left-hander Alex Torres, who entered in the fourth inning with the Rays down 6-3 and pitched four hitless innings.

"We win the game because he pitches so well. That's it," Maddon said.

Torres, who is expected to be optioned back to Triple-A Durham today to make room on the roster for pitcher Jake Odorizzi, proved he was a good choice as the pitcher promoted Thursday to add depth to an ailing bullpen.

"Just came into the game and tried to give us a chance to win the game," he said. "I feel great. I just tried to make a pitch, be around the strike zone so they can swing the bat and I did it."

Joel Peralta, who was unavailable to pitch but watched the game from the bullpen, said he turned to bullpen coach Stan Boroski as Torres ran to the mound and said, "If he gives us three good innings we're going to win the game. He gave us four good innings and we won the game."

As a result, Joyce and Torres were selected by their teammates as co-players of the game. The honor included being able to use a remote to turn on a clubhouse TV during the postgame dance party.

Longoria on Joyce: "He had the biggest hits of the game."

Longoria on Torres: "You can't win that game without him doing what he did, especially the taxing that our bullpen has taken in the last couple of games, for him to go out there and throw four scoreless innings, he was spectacular."

Longoria said he walked out of the park Friday night with a weird feeling. The Rays won, yes, but it wasn't a confidence-inspiring win because they nearly blew an eight-run eighth-inning lead.

"You take them any way you can get them," Longoria said, "but at the same time, wins like (Saturday's) feel so much different and so much better when you're able to battle back late in the game and overcome a late deficit and win."
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