By Anthony Andro, The Sports Xchange
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Tampa Bay Rays aren’t just leading the majors in home runs. They are hitting the long ball in a timely fashion.
That was on full display Wednesday night as the Rays rallied for a 7-5 win over the Texas Rangers in 10 innings to take the rubber game of the three-game series and win their fifth straight road series.
Tampa Bay trailed 4-3 with two outs in the ninth inning before Kevin Kiermaier tied the score with a solo homer off Texas closer Matt Bush.
In the 10th, the Rays got a leadoff homer from Logan Morrison against Sam Dyson (1-6) and a two-run blast from Derek Norris to put the Rangers away.
The Rays finished with four homers to give them 83 for the season.
“That’s something we’ve really struggled with in years past,” Kiermaier said of the comeback for a team that was 2-24 when trailing after eight innings before Wednesday. “This year, that hasn’t been the case. We’ve proven we could come back. Winning teams are able to do this.”
The Rays led 3-1 early, but the Rangers tied the score in the fifth on a fielder’s-choice grounder and then took a 4-3 lead in the seventh on Elvis Andrus’ double to left-center field against Rays ace Chris Archer.
The Rays got Archer off the hook in the ninth, though, as Kiermaier handed Bush his first blown save since he took over the closer role from Dyson.
Bush had converted his last six save chances.
“I’m kind of in a little bit of shock,” Bush said. “I’m not used to giving up home runs on my fastball, and it happened tonight. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Eventually, it will happen, and it did tonight for me.
“I look forward to bouncing back, and we’re going to win some games here. I’m not worried about that.”
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash thought the Rays would have a chance against Bush, and Kiermaier made that stand up with the first pitch he saw.
“(Kiermaier) had a lengthy at-bat (Tuesday) off Bush,” Cash said. “He saw a lot of pitches from him. He was timed up on the fastball. The guy (Bush) has got an electric fastball, but it seemed like it got Kiermaier locked in, ready to hit the first pitch, and he didn’t miss it.”
With Bush out of the game, the Rangers turned to Dyson, who has struggled all season and now has a 10.80 ERA.
“These are the guys we have, and we have to find a way to get these guys going,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said of his bullpen. “It’s obviously been a struggle. There’s nights that (Dyson) has gone out and the sinker’s been there and the velo’s been there.
“And then there have been nights when the sinker gets away from him and flattens out. Tonight, it looked like the breaking ball on the two-run home run. It’s an extreme challenge right now.”
The homers made a winner of Austin Pruitt (4-1), who was called up from Triple-A Durham earlier in the day. Alex Colome worked around a one-out RBI single by Adrian Beltre in the 10th for his 15th save.
Archer pitched seven innings, allowing four runs and striking out seven. The strikeouts allowed him to set the franchise mark for K’s in a month with 57, breaking the record of 54 set by David Price in June 2014.
Texas right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx allowed three runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings in his first major league start.
The Rays jumped out to a 3-1 lead against Bibens-Dirkx. Steven Souza Jr. hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead, and Evan Longoria added an RBI single an inning later to push the advantage to 3-1.
Texas came back to tie the score with single runs in the fourth and fifth. Beltre scored on a double play in the fourth, and an Andrus fielder’s choice scored Mike Napoli in the fifth.
Longoria and Morrison each had two hits for Tampa Bay. Andrus went 3-for-4 for Texas.