ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It wasn't the worst loss of the season for the Texas Rangers, at least not yet.
But Wednesday night's 4-3, 12-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays is one they will remember if they don't reach the postseason. There were so many ways they could have won it.
"This is tough because we were right where we wanted to be with the right person (Joe Nathan) on the mound," manager Ron Washington said of the 11th inning. "Joe's been solid for us all year. It just didn't happen tonight."
Desmond Jennings' RBI single in the 12th inning moved the Rays into the top spot in the AL wild-card race. Texas has a half-game lead over Cleveland, which lost at Kansas City, for the second wild card, and Baltimore is a game behind the Rangers, who have lost eight of nine.
Jose Lobaton opened the 12th with a single off Joseph Ortiz (2-2) and pinch-runner Sam Fuld went to second on Yunel Escobar's bunt. Fuld then scored the winning run on Jennings' hit to right center.
Brandon Gomes (2-1) of the Rays struck out Ian Kinsler with runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the 12th. Jeff Baker had led off that inning with a pinch-hit double.
Texas took a 3-2 lead in the 11th when Elvis Andrus scored from first base on Adrian Beltre's two-out single.
But Nathan couldn't hold the lead, even after getting the first two outs in the 11th. The Rays tied it on David DeJesus' RBI single after Nathan walked Matt Joyce. Pinch-runner Freddy Guzman stole second and scored on DeJesus' ground ball up the middle.
"He didn't hit it great, but he hit it enough to get it through the infield, in the right spot. A lot of times that's what this game is about – hit it where they aint," Nathan said. "He was able to do that and tie the game up. I tip my cap to those guys for battling with two outs."
It was Nathan's third blown save in 42 attempts.
"If it was the last game and we weren't in (the playoffs) because of it, that would be the toughest loss," he said. "But we're still in the postseason, aren't we? I can't see how this can be the toughest loss. We get another opportunity tomorrow."
Leonys Martin put Texas up 2-0 with a two-run triple off Chris Archer in the second. Jennings appeared to misread the drive in center, which went over his head.
Sean Rodriguez tied it at 2-all in the sixth with a two-run homer off Texas starter Derek Holland, who would have been out of the inning had the Rangers completed a double play.
"Not turning that double play changed the outcome of the whole game, really," Washington said.
But Holland, who gave up two runs and six hits in six innings, took the blame.
"That didn't affect what happened after that," he said. "I just made a bad pitch."
Martin had two doubles and a homer in the Rangers' 7-1 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Archer gave up two runs and four hits over six innings for the Rays, who have won five of seven.
NOTES: Tampa Bay LHP Matt Moore (15-3) will go against Texas RHP Yu Darvish (12-9) in Thursday night's series finale. With the season series tied 3-3, the game will determine home-field advantage if the Rays and Rangers finish tied for the wild card spots. . Rays reliever Jesse Crain (strained right shoulder) is scheduled to pitch in an instructional league game on Thursday. ... Lance Berkman (hip and knee), 0 for 12 in five games since being reinstated from the DL on Sept 1, still can't swing right-handed but remains in the Rangers' left-handed DH mix. "I know he hasn't done a heck of a lot, but he's one of those guys who can wake up on a cold day with snow out there and get a base hit," Washington said.