ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays ended the first half of the season on a roll.
Jason Bartlett hit a game-ending single over a drawn-in outfield in the 10th inning, giving the Rays a 6-5 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.
“It’s a nice way to walk off into the All-Star break,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
Ben Zobrist opened the 10th with a single off Kerry Wood (1-4) and later was forced out at second on Carl Crawford’s grounder. After Crawford stole second, Evan Longoria was intentionally walked. Bartlett then won it with a long single to right center on an 1-2 pitch.
“He’s a strikeout pitcher, so I was just trying to battle, put the bat on the ball,” Bartlett said.
Crawford homered for the Rays, who are 9-2 in July after going 11-14 during June. Andy Sonnanstine (2-0) pitched a perfect 10th.
Cleveland got two RBIs from Austin Kearns. The Indians, who walked 10 batters Sunday, lost three of four in the series and are 17-32 on the road this season.
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“We battled really hard against this good ballclub,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “You can’t be expecting to walk 10 people and stay in the game. You have to work some magic just to not get buried.”
Tampa Bay’s Jeff Niemann left after five innings with back stiffness, but expects to make his next scheduled start Saturday at the New York Yankees. The right-hander, who threw just 70 pitches, gave up three runs and six hits.
“A little bit of tightness,” Niemann said. “It really wasn’t anything big and it shouldn’t affect the second half.”
The Rays loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth against Hector Ambriz, but failed to score when B.J. Upton flew out to short center, Reid Brignac struck out and Sean Rodriguez hit a grounder.
“A lot of good things took place,” Cleveland starter Justin Masterson said. “Hector Ambriz is out there getting out of that jam. That’s pretty cool. We came close.”
Masterson allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings.
Crawford hit a two-run homer off Masterson and Upton had a sacrifice fly to put the Rays ahead 5-3 in the fifth. Crawford hit a pair of two-run shots in Thursday’s 5-2 win over the Indians.
Cleveland tied it at 5 during the sixth when Trevor Crowe had a run-scoring single and another run scored when Anderson Hernandez hit into a double play.
Kearns drove in two runs with a single and Matt LaPorta hit an RBI double as the Indians went up 3-0 in the first.
The Rays got one run back in the bottom of the first when Crawford scored from third on a botched rundown after Carlos Pena hit a grounder back to Masterson, who then threw the ball to third base. Andy Marte chased Crawford toward the plate before being charged with an error for a bad throw to catcher Chris Gimenez.
“Actually, I think had that ball not been caught by Masterson, it would have been a routine double play up the middle,” Maddon said. “He makes a wonderful play and we get a run out of it, so I guess it was meant to be.”
Brignac’s RBI single got the Rays to 3-2 in the fourth.
Crawford said his left shoulder is sore and was the DH for the second consecutive game.
Acta said OF Shin-Soo Choo, who has been on the disabled list since July 3 with a sprained right thumb, could return by the end of the month.
Indians DH Travis Hafner (left upper back stiffness) underwent treatment and was available in an emergency situation.
Cleveland LHP Aaron Laffey said he is fine although his velocity was down in Saturday’s start. Acta plans to monitor the matter.