Willy Aybar drove in two runs while Ben Zobrist went 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Rays, who have won three straight. David Price went six-plus innings and was charged with two runs on five hits with five walks and eight strikeouts. Lance Cormier (4-3) got the win for getting the final out in the eighth inning.
With the win and a loss by the Yankees to Detroit on Monday, Tampa Bay is now tied with New York for the top spot in the division with identical 72-46 records.
Bengie Molina went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored and Elvis Andrus added two hits and an RBI for the Rangers, who have dropped five of their last eight. Cliff Lee (10-6) was tagged with the loss as he gave up six runs on nine hits with a walk and 10 strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings.
Despite the loss in the opener of a three-game set, the Rangers still hold a healthy eight-game lead over the Angels for first in the AL West.
Texas had taken the lead with consecutive two-run innings in the seventh and eighth, but the Rays rallied back. With one out, B.J. Upton doubled and Jason Bartlett followed with an infield single. Carl Crawford then hit a grounder to second, which saw Bartlett beat the force out at second and Upton score. Back- to-back RBI singles from Evan Longoria and Pena then gave Tampa the lead. After Sean Rodriguez struck out, Zobrist shot a single to left for a 6-4 advantage.
Rafael Soriano then set the Rangers down in order in the ninth for his 34th save of the season.
In the Texas third, David Murphy led off with a double, but the next two batters struck out. Andrus then punched a single to right and Murphy tried to score, but he was nailed at the plate by Zobrist.
Lee set down the first 11 batters he faced before Crawford singled to left with two outs in the fourth.
The Rays broke onto the scoreboard in the fifth. Pena led off with a walk, the first to a left-handed batter issued by Lee this season, and Rodriguez followed with a single. A sacrifice bunt from Zobrist moved both runners into scoring position and Aybar followed with a single to bring home both runners for a 2-0 lead.
Texas loaded the bases in the sixth, but it was with two outs and Jorge Cantu struck out to end the frame.
The Rangers finally got on board in the seventh. Molina doubled to lead off the frame and Murphy followed with a walk to chase Price from the game. Chad Qualls came on in relief and walked Brandon Boggs to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who grounded into a double play to score one run. Andrus then hit an infield single to score Murphy and tie the game.
Texas then took the lead in the eighth. Joaquin Arias led off with a triple and Randy Choate came on the mound and promptly walked Josh Hamilton before handing the ball to Dan Wheeler. He induced a double play from Vladimir Guerrero that plated the go-ahead run. Cantu, though, followed with a triple and Molina’s single off the top of the wall in left made it a 4-2 game.
Texas third baseman Michael Young left the game in the seventh inning with neck stiffness…In all 21 of his starts this year, Lee has gone at least six innings and has never walked more than two batters…Texas fell to 11-19 versus the AL East this season while the Rays improved to 12-6 versus the AL West…These teams have split four meetings this season…Three of Lee’s six losses have come at the hands of the Rays.