James Loney’s two-run double pushes Rays past Rangers
James Loney put the finishing touch on a Tampa Bay comeback victory.
Loney hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the eighth inning and the Rays beat the Texas Rangers 5-4 on Saturday night.
"I really felt good about James right there," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "He’s calm, but he’s got that thing going on inside. It definitely burns. He wants to win and he wants to play well."
Loney lined an opposite-field drive off Neal Cotts (0-1) that went over left fielder Shin-Soo Choo and put the Rays up 5-4. His hit came after Evan Longoria was intentionally walked to put the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base.
"I was actually (surprised)," Loney said of the walk to Longoria. "They had a one-run lead, but people like to do that now."
Brandon Gomes (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth before Grant Balfour got the final three outs for his first save.
Yunel Escobar and Matt Joyce homered for the Rays. David Price, who was sick Friday and almost didn’t pitch, gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings.
"Feel better since we won," Price said.
Texas right-hander Nick Martinez allowed three runs and four hits over six innings in his major league debut.
"Nick gave us a chance," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "At the end, we had the right people in there, we just didn’t get the job done."
Alex Rios put the Rangers up 2-0 with a two-out, two-run double in the first off Price. Rios has 12 hits in 30 at-bats with 10 RBIs against the Rays left-hander.
Elvis Andrus made it 3-0 on a second-inning RBI single before Escobar pulled Tampa Bay within two on a solo homer in third.
It was announced before the game that Escobar and the Rays had agreed to a two-year extension for 2015 and 2016 worth a guaranteed $13 million. There is a 2017 club option.
After Choo had a sacrifice fly in the fourth, Joyce cut the Rays deficit to 4-3 with a two-run homer in the bottom half.
Maddon had a successful challenge for the second straight game. It was first ruled that Robinson Chirinos had beat Escobar’s throw from shortstop to first for an infield single in the second, but after a 1-minute, 35-second delay the umpires changed the call to an out.
Maddon won his first replay reversal in the seventh Friday night after it was first ruled that right fielder Wil Myers didn’t make the catch while sliding forward on J.P. Arencibia’s two-out flare. After a 1-minute, 43-second delay, the umpires ruled Myers did make the catch.
"The umpires have done a great job with it," Maddon said. "It seems to be working well."