ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon isn't quite ready to deliver a concession speech even though the Rays are running out of time in the AL playoff race.
C.J. Wilson was perfect for five innings before exiting in the seventh with an injury to his left index finger, and Ian Kinsler homered twice to help the AL West-leading Texas Rangers beat the Rays 7-2 on Thursday night.
Tampa Bay trails the AL wild card-leading New York Yankees by 8 1/2 games with 26 left, leaving the Rays needing a huge rally to reach the playoffs.
Still, Maddon hasn't given up hope.
``The math doesn't permit me to shift focus,' Maddon said. ``We have to get toasty the next few weeks.'
His players also insist they haven't abandoned their playoff aspirations.
``Until it's finalized that we can't, we still have the mindset that we are going to make it,' outfielder Matt Joyce said. ``We're capable of getting on a roll. We have the potential, the guys that can do it. It's a matter of getting hot and getting rolling.'
Not if they keep running into pitching like they saw on Thursday from Wilson.
Wilson (14-6) gave up two runs and two hits in six-plus innings with eight strikeouts and one walk.
He struck out six while retiring the first 15 Rays he faced before Casey Kotchman led off the sixth with an infield single.
Wilson reached out with his left hand in an attempt to field the sharp grounder. The ball bent back Wilson's left index finger, and the grounder changed directions. Kinsler fielded the ball on the grass behind second base, but his throw to first was wide.
Rangers manager Ron Washington and a team trainer ran onto the field to check on Wilson, but he stayed in the game after throwing a few practice pitches.
``I will second-guess that Casey Kotchman at-bat for the rest of my life,' Wilson said.
Wilson got Justin Ruggiano to ground into a double play, then Kelly Shoppach ended the shutout bid with a homer into the left-field seats.
When Wilson hit Sean Rodriguez with a pitch leading off the seventh and followed by walking Evan Longoria, it was obvious that the lefty was having problems with the finger. Pitching coach Mike Maddux went to the mound and Wilson was soon headed for the dugout to a standing ovation.
``When I stopped the ball, that pretty much ended my effectiveness,' Wilson said. ``I reached for the ball and it bent my index finger back. The finger went numb. It's like trying to drive with only one eye, so you don't have depth perception.'
Maddon said until the injury, Wilson ``had no-hit stuff. We had bad swings and his stuff was jumping.'
Koji Uehara struck out Ben Zobrist and B.J. Upton in the seventh before Joyce greeted left-hander Darren Oliver with a pinch-hit RBI single to pull the Rays within 5-2. Oliver retired Kotchman on a groundout to end the inning.
Michael Young added a solo homer for the Rangers, who wrapped up a 5-5 homestand.
Rays starter Jeff Niemann (9-6) had won eight of his previous nine decisions, but the 6-foot-9 right-hander gave up three runs in the second.
Niemann allowed five runs and six hits over five innings. Meanwhile, his teammates couldn't get much going against Wilson.
``I kind of lost it in the second,' Niemann said. ``I missed on some pitches and they took advantage. It's a great team over there.'
The Rangers had All-Star third baseman Adrian Beltre back in the lineup. Beltre was activated from the disabled list before the game, and batted fifth.
Joyce robbed Beltre of a homer with a leaping catch over the right-field wall in the eighth.
NOTES: Niemann had his first road defeat since April 10. ... The Rays added Ruggiano and Brandon Guyer as rosters were expanded to 40. Both were in the starting lineup, Guyer in RF and Ruggiano at DH. Ruggiano was activated from the 15-day DL, where he had been since Aug. 10 because of bursitis in his left knee. Guyer was recalled from Triple-A Durham for the third time this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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