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Rays to playoffs again after 5-2 win over Rangers

October 1, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tampa Bay is into the American League playoffs after beating Texas 5-2 in Monday’s one-off tiebreaker game, with David Price pitching a complete game for the Rays.

Evan Longoria had a two-run homer among his three hits for Tampa Bay, which faces another do-or-die game on Wednesday at Cleveland in the AL wild-card game.

Price, who had woeful 10.26 ERA in his four previous starts at Rangers Ballpark, struck out four and picked off two runners in a game-winning performance.

“That’s what an ace does, that’s what a leader of a staff does,” Longoria said of Price’s game. “It was awesome to watch.”

The admiration was reciprocated, as Price immediately sought out Longoria as the celebrations began, with the pair embracing and Price saying he had dreamt the two would pair up to guide the Rays to victory.

“You’re probably supposed to go to your catcher first, but for what he’s done for us and what he’s done for me personally,” Price said. “I think about that type of stuff before I pitch all the time, but for it to happen today. I didn’t want to text him when I thought about it. I didn’t want to jinx it.”

Longoria extended his stellar record in the last game of regular seasons. He is hitting .579 (11 for 19) in those finales with seven homers and 10 RBIs, according to STATS.

In 2011, the Rays had to overcome a nine-game deficit the final month of the season and were down seven runs in their last game. They got to the playoffs after Longoria’s game-ending homer in the 12th inning beat the New York Yankees.

“I wish I could explain it,” he said. “I wish I could bottle it up and take it through 161 games and not have it be on the last day.”

Texas’ All-Star slugger Nelson Cruz made his return from his 50-game drug suspension but even that could not put the Rangers into the playoffs for a fourth year in a row.

Cruz, who had 27 homers and 76 RBIs in 108 games before his suspension, was 0 for 4 with a strikeout while hitting sixth as the designated hitter. His groundout to shortstop ended the game.