Rays snap skid with walk-off win against M's

Rays snap skid with walk-off win against M's

Rays snap skid with walk-off win against M's

ST. PETERSBURG -- With the Rays trailing by a run, manager Joe Maddon felt it necessary to sit down with outfielder Jason Bourgeois before the bottom of the ninth inning.

The top of Tampa Bay's order was due to face sizzling rookie closer Danny Farquhar and because of a pinch-running substitution the previous inning, Bourgeois -- playing in just his fourth Major League game this season -- was slotted to hit fifth.

Bourgeois did just enough, looping a single over the head of right fielder Michael Morse for his first hit with the Rays and the second walk-off hit of his career in a 5-4 win over the Mariners at Tropicana Field.

"I asked Jason, 'Do you know all the signs?' to make sure he knew the things we wanted to do in that moment," Maddon said. "He told me very calmly, 'Yes, this is what it is.'"

"I haven't been up here long," Bourgeois said. "It was a reminder, but I passed the test."

On only his ninth day with the Rays, Bourgeois did not end up needing a sign from the dugout. After the top three hitters produced the tying run, he had the green light with the bases loaded and no outs.

The hit was a moment Bourgeois will not soon forget, but it was so much more for the Rays who, after their best month in franchise history, had lost six straight games and were in danger of dropping their third straight series.

Ben Zobrist started the winning rally in the ninth with a leadoff triple off the railing atop the right-field wall -- the hit was reviewed and upheld -- off Farquhar, who had previously saved five straight games. Matt Joyce followed with a game-tying single up the middle before Evan Longoria ripped a double down the left-field line to put runners at second and third with no outs.

Farquhar intentionally walked Wil Myers to load the bases, setting the stage for Bourgeois.

"It could be the difference between winning the [American League East] division or having to be a Wild Card team," Maddon said. "I always love the underdog. Beautiful moment. He is thinking clearly and slowly. That matters."

The elder statesmen in the Rays' clubhouse likened the feeling of Bourgeois' heroics to Dan Johnson's pinch-hit home run that kept Tampa Bay in first place on his first day with the club in September 2008, the same year of the franchise's first and only World Series appearance.

"Our M.O. for as long as I've been here is, we've played nine innings hard," third baseman Longoria said. "You have that majestic feel of '08 and the guy coming off the bench that nobody has really heard of to come through with a big hit. Those are the kinds of things we need."

Before the rally began, the game started to take on a doomsday feel as not even ace starter David Price appeared capable of saving Tampa Bay from its longest losing streak in five seasons.

He exited the game after seven innings with the Rays trailing in a game he pitched for the first time since he returned from the disabled list on July 2. But Price has shouldered the load for his offensive teammates plenty of times this season.

After the Rays loaded the bases on three eighth-inning walks and failed to cash in, the Rays happily returned the favor in the ninth.

"If we go out there and win 1-0, our hitters probably don't feel as confident as they do right now," said Price, who struck out seven, but gave up four runs on five hits in seven frames. "Our team winning is the biggest thing and to come from behind like that against Farquhar after he slammed the door on us yesterday is huge. Our offense hasn't given up all year long. They put together solid at-bats in the ninth inning. They never quit."

Price can also credit Wil Myers for drawing the Rays within a run in the sixth when he followed Longoria's leadoff double with a moonshot home run to left field on the first pitch he saw from Mariners' starter Aaron Harang. Myers' homer snapped a personal 0-for-15 skid.

"I felt like I got tight in the back of my forearm a little bit," Harang said. "I left a fastball up to Longoria and obviously the same with Myers."

While Maddon said he had not lost any sleep over the losing streak, Wednesday's dramatic win should help the Rays rest a little easier.

"That's the beauty of the whole thing," Maddon said. "We've been un-baseball-lucky the last couple games. That's the kind of stuff that makes the game so interesting. The only way it comes back to you is if you keep fighting through it."

Sam Strong is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.