Joe Nathan joined the 300-save club, A.J. Pierzynski and Mitch Moreland were the first tandem to hit back-to-back homers this season and the Texas Rangers held on for a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.
Nathan gave up a two-out RBI single to Sean Rodriguez in the ninth to make it a one-run game, but retired Ben Zobrist on a called strikeout to end the game. Nathan’s second save of the season made him the 24th member of the 300-save club. He joins Mariano Rivera as the only active closers to reach that milestone.
It didn’t appear like Nathan would have a chance to join the club an inning earlier.
The Rangers had a 5-1 lead going into the eighth, but Michael Kirkman struggled. He issued a leadoff walk and then gave up consecutive one-out singles to load the bases. The Rangers turned to Derek Lowe to get out of the jam and he kept the lead in tact but allowed two of the inherited runners to score.
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That put the game in a save situation and Nathan closed it out.
With the game tied 1-1 going into the fourth, the Rangers pulled ahead on a pair of solo shots by Pierzynski and Moreland off Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson.
Elvis Andrus then cushioned the Rangers’ lead to 5-1 with a two-run single in the seventh. Those proved to be critical runs as the Rays put the pressure on in the eighth.