ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — One swing of Evan Longoria's bat erased another night of frustration for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Longoria hit a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning off Padres closer Huston Street on Saturday night, rallying the Rays to an 8-7 victory over San Diego.
Street (0-2) retired the first two batters in the ninth before walking Ben Zobrist on a full count. Longoria followed with his ninth home run, handing Street his first blown save in nine tries this season.
"You need games like this, whether it's myself or anybody coming through in the clutch, to kind of boost morale and jump-start everything," Longoria said.
Failing to finish off Zobrist is what bothered Street the most.
"You get him 1-2, you've got to make a pitch," he said. "I'm frustrated about that just as much as leaving a pitch to Longoria in the middle of the plate."
It was the fourth straight win for the Rays, who had to come back after Jesus Guzman's pinch-hit grand slam off Jeremy Hellickson helped San Diego overcame a 6-2 deficit in the seventh. If the Padres had held on, it would have been the 14th game the Rays lost this season after leading. They had lost twice this week after taking big leads into the late innings.
"It would have been among the top three worst losses of the year," said manager Joe Maddon, who was uncharacteristically perturbed about another blown lead.
"That's not going to happen very often," Maddon said. "We were fortunate Longo was in the right spot, fortunate that Zo gets it as a hitter. You had all this talent coming together at that particular moment. But you can't go to the dance playing like that. When you get leads, you've got to put the other team away. I'm not happy with that. That's inappropriate. That's got to stop."
Cesar Ramos (1-0) got the win as the Rays moved up to .500 for the first time since April 7.
James Loney hit a two-run homer as the Rays roughed up San Diego's Burch Smith in the second inning of his major league debut. The Rays scored six runs on five hits and a couple of walks in the inning and drove Smith out of the game.
"I feel the difference between the first and second inning was I was locating the fastball better. The second inning I was leaving pitches over the plate," said Smith. "Hitters at this level are going to take advantage of mistakes. (I'll) come back next time and do better."