ST. PETERSBURG -- Three hits. That's all the Rays could muster, and, still, they nearly pulled it off Saturday night.
Unfortunately, after cashing in an unearned run to tie the game in the eighth, the Rays weren't able to come through in the ninth. The Rangers' bats then came alive in the 10th en route to a 4-2 win on Saturday night at Tropicana Field with 18,702 watching.
"We came back, we did all the right things," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Just a good baseball game, they just beat us."
The Rays fell to 76-63 with the rubber game of their three-game series taking place in a Sunday afternoon matinee. Meanwhile, where American League East business is concerned, the Orioles moved into a tie for first place with the Yankees by virtue of their win over the Yankees on Saturday night. That left the Rays two games out in the division standings and for the second Wild Card spot.
After B.J. Upton singled to lead off the ninth, the Rays' Nos. 3, 4, and 5 hitters -- Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, and Matt Joyce -- could not get anything going, so the game went into extra innings for the second consecutive night.
In the 10th, Geovany Soto doubled to center off Kyle Farnsworth with two outs and Jurickson Profar doubled to right to drive home pinch-runner Leonys Martin, giving the Rangers the lead.
"An elevated fastball to Soto right there and then Profar just beats us down the line," Maddon said. "Again, the razor-thin line between winning and losing was on display tonight."
The Rangers added another when Farnsworth hit Josh Hamilton with the bases loaded to give the Rangers a two-run lead.
In the bottom half of the inning, Ryan Roberts drew a two-out walk to bring Carlos Pena to the plate. Rangers closer Joe Nathan got ahead in the count 2-2 before Pena took a called strike three to end the game.
The normally calm Pena argued vehemently with home-plate umpire Mike Estabrook, who ejected Pena from the completed game. Replays appeared to validate Pena's point of view as Nathan's 90-mph slider looked outside.
"With all due respect, I know that was a ball," Pena said. "I saw the replay and I saw the evidence, it was a ball. I did the right thing by taking it. Unfortunately, he thought it was a strike and their call stands."
David Price did not make his scheduled start Saturday night because of the soreness in his shoulder he experienced earlier in the week. With Price sitting, Chris Archer made his third career Major League start and his first at Tropicana Field.
The 23-year-old right-hander looked sharp while posting three scoreless innings. Hamilton finally ended the honeymoon in the fourth inning when he connected on an 0-1 pitch for a two-run homer to center field.
Hamilton's fifth home run in his last 10 games gave him a career-high 40 home runs, making him just the fifth Rangers player in team history to hit 40 home runs in a season.
In the sixth, Archer threw inside to Hamilton with two outs and hit the slugger, which drew a warning from Estabrook.
"I was pretty surprised [at the warning]," Archer said. "I guess the umpire felt like I had gone up and in on a couple guys. He made a reference to that whenever he came out. Not intentionally did I try to throw at anybody's head or hit anybody. I was just trying to execute pitches. One got away from me. A couple got away from me, and he thought that I was going after people. I definitely wasn't."
Estabrook's warning drew the ire of Rangers manager Ron Washington, who cleared the air with the umpire, ostensibly because the intent of any inside pitches from that point on would be in question.
"There was no intent on our part right there," Maddon said. "I think, honestly, the rest of the umpire crew saw that too. It was just a young umpire [who] did not want the game to get out of control."
Archer finished his outing by striking out the Rangers in order in the seventh, giving him 11 strikeouts on the evening. Despite notching his second quality start of the season while holding the Rangers to two runs on four hits, Archer received a no-decision.
"This kid's got a great fastball, he's got a good changeup," Soto said. "He's got a great arm. ... His fastball was jumping at you. His changeup went down. It was really impressive, I thought."
Yu Darvish started for the Rangers and allowed a leadoff single to Sam Fuld in the first. He then retired the next 15 Rays until Jeff Keppinger broke the spell with a leadoff single in the sixth.
Darvish then walked Roberts before uncorking a wild pitch to put the runners in scoring position. One out later, Fuld grounded out to drive home Roberts to cut the Rangers' lead to 2-1.
Keppinger walked with one out in the eighth and Rich Thompson entered the game to pinch-run. Thompson stole second base when Roberts swung and missed strike three for the second out. Pena then pinch-hit for Jose Molina.
Hitting into the shifted Rangers infield, Pena laced a shot to shallow right field where second baseman Ian Kinsler was positioned. Pena has seen so many potential hits disappear into the shift that haunts him, but this time Kinsler couldn't come up with the ball, allowing Pena to safely reach first and Thompson to score to tie the game at 2.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.