ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — In another time or situation, Ben Zobrist might have dropped down a bunt.
Instead manager Joe Maddon told the Rays shortstop to swing away, and Zobrist delivered a two-run walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Tampa Bay's 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night.
"I've never had a walk-off home run before in my life, regardless of whether it was Little League or high school or college," Zobrist said. "I thought about if it was ever going to happen, but when you're in the moment you just try to have a good, quality at bat."
Zobrist's 16th homer came off Mark Lowe (0-1) after a leadoff walk to B.J. Upton.
Maddon reminded Zobrist not to bunt because with Upton on second base, the Rangers probably would have walked Evan Longoria, the Rays' next hitter.
"If (Upton) stole a bag, then I would have (bunted)," Zobrist said.
For Zobrist, the home run was a perfect finish to a night that started with his wife, Julianna, singing the national anthem.
"That may be the first time in Major League Baseball history that happens, where the wife sings the national anthem and the husband hits a walk-off homer," Maddon observed. "Maybe Honus Wagner and his wife, back in the day. Whenever amplification came on board, you'd have to check that out."
Wade Davis (3-0) got the win after striking out five of the six hitters he faced in the 10th and 11th innings.
The Rays' fifth win in six games featured a total of 29 strikeouts after a duel between starting pitchers Derek Holland of the Rangers and the Rays' Jeremy Hellickson.
Holland struck out a career-high 11 while giving up only two hits and two walks in eight innings. He threw a season-high 116 pitches, retiring five Rays in a span of seven pitches at one point.