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Marcus Semien hits 2-run homer in the 7th to push Texas Rangers past the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Marcus Semien had no interest in talking about the struggles he has been going through at the plate. The Texas second baseman wanted to keep the focus on the latest game.

“I had a swing to help us win the game, and that’s all you can ask for as a major league player,” Semien said.

Semien hit his first homer in nearly a month, after a 3-for-42 skid over a 10-game span, to quickly put the Rangers back ahead in a 4-3 victory Saturday that clinched a series over the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I want to build on that, I don’t want to talk about the struggles,” he said. “I want to talk about the good things, like that swing and getting on base, scoring a couple of runs and just doing things that help us.”

The 422-foot drive to left-center off Kevin Kelly (2-1) with two outs in the seventh inning was Semien’s 12th homer this season, but the first in 23 games since June 9 for the leadoff hitter. He walked and scored another run earlier in the game.

“He’s such a good player, and and everybody goes through their times where it’s not quite going well,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “But you know they’re going to come out of it. And that’s the case with Marcus.”

Leody Taveras greeted Kelly with a leadoff single to start the Rangers seventh, and there were consecutive strikeouts before Semien went deep.

That came after Tampa Bay had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh on Yandy Díaz’s three-run homer off Jacob Latz.

“Yeah, that was huge in the moment,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We’d like to be able to capitalize, find a way to win with that big of a hit late in the ballgame, but we didn’t.”

Tampa Bay (44-45), which has left 30 runners on base over the past three games, has consecutive losses for the first time since June 14 and 15.

Jonathan Hernandez (2-0) retired the only batter he faced on his 28th birthday to end the seventh. David Robertson pitched a scoreless eighth, and Kirby Yates had a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 13 chances.

Rangers starter Andrew Heaney struck out seven over 5 1/3 scoreless innings, including his 1,000th career strikeout, in his 189th game. The left-hander allowed three hits and walked one.

Josh Sborz was the first Rangers reliever, and allowed two runs on two hits over an inning in his first big league appearance since May 8. The right-hander who got the save in their World Series-ending game last season, was activated Friday after his second stint on the injured list this season because of a right rotator cuff strain.

Taj Bradley struck out five and allowed two runs (one earned) in his six innings for Tampa Bay. The right-hander has a 1.29 ERA over his past six starts,

Díaz had three hits, falling a triple short of a cycle, and the Rays leadoff hitter also walked while extending his on-base streak in road games to 23 in a row.

Semien led off the third with a walk, Corey Seager then extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single and Nathaniel Lowe had an RBI single to make it 2-0.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers third baseman Josh Smith was out of the lineup for the second game in a row. Manager Bruce Bochy said the potential All-Star could return Sunday.

UP NEXT

Nathan Eovaldi (5-3, 3.15 ERA), who is 4-0 with a 1.92 ERA in his nine starts at home, pitches the series finale Sunday for Texas. Rays right-hander Zack Littell (3-5, 3.94) is coming off five scoreless innings at Kansas City on Tuesday, his first win since May 11.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Baseball Writer

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