Tommy Pham had three hits and ripped a pair of solo home runs as part of Tampa Bay’s 16-hit barrage as the visiting Rays continued to be the hottest team in baseball with a 9-3 win over the hapless Texas Rangers on Wednesday afternoon to sweep the three-game series at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Tex.
The win was the fifth in a row for the Rays (85-66) and their 14th victory in their past 17 games, all in September.
Tampa Bay is chasing New York and Oakland for an American League wild-card spot and climbed to within five games of the A’s with Wednesday’s win (pending Oakland’s game with Los Angeles later Wednesday) with 11 games to play.
Ryan Yarbrough (15-5) garnered the win for the Rays with four innings of three-run, five-hit pitching in relief of “opener” Diego Castillo, who went the first 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Yarbrough struck out six and walked two as the second of five Tampa Bay pitchers.
Yohander Mendez (2-2) took the loss for the Rangers (64-88) after allowing eight runs — seven of them earned — on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings of work.
Texas was outscored 16-3 in the series after being shutout in the first two games.
Tampa Bay got on the board first when Jake Bauers’ double in the second inning drove home C.J. Cron and Joey Wendle. Bauers later scored on Willy Adames’ infield single that spotted the Rays a 3-0 lead.
Pham hit his first homer of the game in the third to expand the lead to 4-0.
Texas responded in the bottom of the third as Elvis Andrus’ single plated Carlos Tocci with the first Rangers’ run of the series, snapping a 23-inning scoreless streak.
The Rays all but cemented the win in the fourth, scoring four times to push their advantage to 8-1. Mallex Smith had an RBI single, Matt Duffy followed with a two-run double, and Cron added a triple to bring home Duffy in the frame.
The Rangers got a solo home run from Adrian Beltre, his 13th, in the fourth and a run-scoring single by Willie Calhoun in the sixth to creep to within 8-3 before Pham belted his second solo dinger in the eighth to end the scoring.
Beltre had two hits in the game to lead Texas.
—Field Level Media