ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tommy Pham homered twice while extending his on-base streak to 21 games and the late-surging Tampa Bay Rays completed a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers with a 9-3 victory Wednesday.
The Rays (85-66), who have won 14 of their 17 games in September and have 11 remaining, entered the day 5½ games behind Oakland for the American League’s second wild card despite a record that would lead or share the lead in three divisions in baseball. But they are third in the AL East behind the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
Adrian Beltre hit his 13th homer of the season for the last-place Rangers. It was the 475th of his career to match Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 30th on the all-time list. He is 15th with his 3,159 career hits, 25 behind Cal Ripken Jr.
A day after Blake Snell became the majors’ first 20-game winner in two years, the Rays used an “opener” pitcher for the 49th time this season.
Rookie lefty Ryan Yarbrough (15-5), the second of five Tampa Bay pitchers, went four innings for the win.
Jake Bauers had a two-run single and scored on Willy Adames’ single in the second off lefty Yohander Mendez (2-2) to put the Rays ahead to stay at 3-0. Pham hit his 18th homer leading off the third, and Matt Duffy’s two-run double in the fourth made it 8-1.
Pham went deep again in the eighth for his seventh career multihomer game. The homer was off 45-year-old Bartolo Colon, who was pitching in relief for the first time since his last start Sept. 5.
Tampa Bay posted shutout victories in the first two games of the series. The Rangers finally ended a season-long scoreless drought of 23 innings in the third when Carlos Tocci singled and went home on Elvis Andrus’ two-out single.
STREAKS AND SWEEPS
The Rays clinched their fourth sweep in nine series since Aug. 20, and their 12th series sweep of the season matched a club record. Tampa Bay has also won five consecutive games, the seventh time this season it won at least that many games in a row.
Rangers: Reliever Matt Bush has had surgery to repair a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament that will keep him out the first half of the 2019 season. ... Dr. Keith Meister, the Rangers team physician, also Wednesday repaired torn cartilage in the right knee of reliever Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who is expected to be ready for spring training. ... OF Joey Gallo was out of the lineup for the third straight day because of swelling in his right little toe.
Rays: Tampa Bay starts its final road series Thursday night with the first of four games at Toronto.
Rangers: After their last scheduled off day of the season Thursday, the Rangers open their final home series against Seattle on Friday night.