Choi, Rays overtake Padres
Ji-Man Choi hit a tiebreaking, two-out, two-run homer in the seventh inning Tuesday night to lead the visiting Tampa Bay Rays to a 7-5 victory over the slumping San Diego Padres.
The Rays earned their fifth straight win and their 12th in the last 14 games, and they widened their edge in the race for the second American League wild card to three games over the Oakland A's.
Matt Duffy started Tampa Bay's winning rally by drawing a one-out walk from rookie reliever Michel Baez, who had not allowed a run in his first 9 2/3 major league innings. Baez (0-1) retired pinch hitter Michael Brosseau on a fly to right immediately before Choi connected.
The first baseman drove a 2-0 pitch from Baez 414 feet into the seats in right-center for his 11th homer of the season.
Tampa Bay added a third run in the inning. Willy Adames singled and scored from first on Eric Sogard's double into the right field corner.
Right-hander Nick Anderson (4-4 overall) struck out all three Padres he faced to run his record to 2-0 for Tampa Bay. Right-hander Emilio Pagan fanned all four batters he faced to earn his 13th save.
The Padres dropped a third straight game at home while falling to 10-19 since the All-Star break.
After the Rays took a 1-0 lead in the first on an Austin Meadows homer off Eric Lauer, the Padres scored four times with two outs in the bottom of the inning.
Eric Hosmer followed walks to Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe with a run-scoring double to right. After Manuel Margot walked to load the bases, Luis Urias hit a bases-clearing double off the wall in right.
Tampa Bay rallied to tie the game with single runs in the second (a leadoff double by Choi and an RBI single by Adames), fifth (a leadoff double by Guillermo Heredia and an RBI single by Meadows) and sixth (Adames scoring on a throwing error by reliever Craig Stammen after doubling to open the inning).
After the Rays jumped ahead in the seventh, the Padres got a run back in the eighth on a throwing error by Tampa Bay pitcher Jose Alvarado.
Both teams saw a key player leave the game. Padres rookie shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. exited in the sixth because of lower back spasms. Tampa Bay right fielder Avisail Garcia departed in the seventh inning after experiencing right oblique tightness.
Lauer gave up three runs on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts in five innings. Tampa Bay starter Brendan McKay allowed four runs on five hits and six walks with seven strikeouts in four innings.
--Field Level Media
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