ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)Joey Wendle had a go-ahead two-run single in the eighth inning and the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays rallied to hurt Philadelphia’s playoff hopes, beating the Phillies 6-4 on Friday night.
The Rays would clinch the top seed in the American League with an Oakland loss later Friday night; the A’s were hosting Seattle. Tampa Bay is looking to finish with the AL’s best record for the second time, after topping the league in 2010.
”This team, we find ways to win,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Bryce Harper had a triple and drove in two runs for Philadelphia, which fell two games behind second-place Miami in the NL East and also trailed in the wide-open wild-card race.
”It’s frustrating,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. ”We had a lead again and weren’t able to hold. Then we weren’t able to tack on any runs after the fifth inning. Their bullpen is outstanding and they came in and pretty much shut us down. We weren’t able to get any more runs and they were and that’s the difference.”
Yoshi Tsutsdugo had one-out single in the eighth before Adam Morgan (0-1) loaded the bases on consecutive walks to Hunter Renfroe and Brett Phillips.
Hector Neris replaced Morgan and retired pinch-hitter Brandon Lowe on a pop fly. Wendle followed with a liner to right that gave Tampa Bay a 5-3 advantage.
Wendle also made a nice running catch in the eighth, going from his second base position to shallow right field near the foul line to snag a pop fly by Jean Segura with a runner on first.
”I was probably surprised by the catch and pleased with the hit,” Wendle said
Nick Anderson (2-1) worked a scoreless eighth and John Curtiss got the final three outs for his second save.
Phillips tied it 4 on a solo shot off Tommy Hunter in the sixth. He put the Rays up 1-0 with a run-scoring single during the second.
Alec Bohm drove in a run with a single before Harper had an RBI triple and scored on shortstop Willy Adames’ errant to throw to third as the Phillies took a 3-1 lead in the third.
Harper made it 4-1 on a fifth-inning single against Charlie Morton.
Adames ended starter Vince Velasquez’s night with a one-out RBI single in the fifth. Kevin Kiermaier cut the deficit to 4-3 on a fielder’s choice grounder off Hunter.
”That’s an inning I have to shut down,” Velasquez said. ”That’s a shutdown inning for me, for the whole team to kind of just continue that energy to carry on. It’s very frustrating I didn’t really complete my job in that situation.”
Morton gave up four runs – all with two outs – and seven hits over five innings. Velasquez allowed three run and six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Bohm went 2 for 4 and has 37 hits this month, and a hit in 16 of his last 18 games. He is hitting .463 (19 of 41) with runners in scoring position.
Lowe was named the Rays’ Don Zimmer MVP Award winner following a vote by media covering the team. Right-hander Pete Fairbanks was selected as the Rays’ top rookie. Kiermaier received the Champion Award for professionalism on and off the field.
Phillies: RHP Spencer Howard (right shoulder stiffness) was reinstated from the 10-day injured list.
Rays: INF Yandy Diaz (right hamstring strain) and 1B Ji-Man Choi (left hamstring strain) both faced live pitching, did defensive work and ran the bases. Their status for the first round of the playoffs has not been determined.
Phillies RHP Zack Wheeler (4-1) will start on Saturday night against Tampa Bay. Curtiss (3-0) will be the opener for the Rays.
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