The Rays look to exact revenge on the last-place Toronto Blue Jays and clinch a share of the second wild-card spot with a win Saturday.
The Rays and Indians fought their way to the top of the race with a pair of seven-game winning streaks.
While Tampa Bay was dealing with fading postseason contenders in Baltimore and the New York Yankees , Cleveland took advantage of a triad of lowly teams in Houston, the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota.
On Friday, however, the Rays (90-70) were cooled of with a 6-3 loss in Toronto (73-87) as they failed to hold an early 2-0 lead and committed a season-high three errors.
"One of those games," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've been on a pretty good run. Go get a good night's sleep and come back tomorrow."
As a result, the Rays are now tied for the top wild-card spot with the Indians, who won their eighth straight Friday.
With Texas still a game behind, even after its 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels Friday, Tampa Bay could clinch a 163rd game at the very least with a victory Saturday.
"We really still are in the driver's seat," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "It's not like we're playing catch-up at this point."
Tampa Bay had allowed four runs or fewer in seven straight leading up to Friday.
The one Tampa Bay pitcher who hasn't had a particularly good September is Chris Archer (9-7, 3.21 ERA), who is 1-2 with a 4.88 ERA in five starts this month. He went 6-2 with a 2.13 ERA in July and August.
"You don't see too many guys who throw in the upper 90s with that kind of secondary stuff," right fielder Wil Myers told the team's official website. "I don't even think he's tapped into his full potential yet."
After lasting seven-plus innings in seven of 11 starts in July and August, he hasn't recorded an out in the seventh since.
Archer's struggles carried into Monday, when he gave up four runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 5-4 victory over Baltimore.
The good news for Archer is that he is facing a Blue Jays team that he has held to two runs and nine hits in 14 innings this year.
Tampa Bay should be happy to see J.A. Happ (4-7, 4.85) again. The left-hander is 1-1 with an 8.44 ERA in four career starts against the Rays, though he did earn a 6-2 victory with 5 1-3 strong innings Aug. 17.
Happ hasn't had many wins since, going 1-5 over his last seven starts. That's due in no small part to the 13 runs the Blue Jays have scored for him over that stretch.
On Monday, he surrendered three runs - two homers - over five innings in a 3-2 loss to the White Sox.
Shortstop Yunel Escobar , hampered by a left ankle injury, is expected to make his first start for Tampa Bay since Sept. 23. He is 3 for his last 29 (.103).
The Blue Jays need to win their final two games to avoid finishing under .500 at home for the first time since 2004.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|September 26, 2013||Jesse Crain||Day-to-Day||Shoulder|
|September 24, 2013||Jose Lobaton||Day-to-Day||Bruised right elbow|
|September 24, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Sore left ankle|
|September 23, 2013||Desmond Jennings||Day-to-Day||Strained left hamstring|
|August 15, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Lower back spasms|
|August 15, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Lower back spasms|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|September 26, 2013||Mark Buehrle||Day-to-Day||Calf|
|September 21, 2013||Colby Rasmus||15-Day DL||Bruised left eye|
|September 17, 2013||Edwin Encarnacion||Day-to-Day||Left wrist surgery - out for season|
|September 16, 2013||Edwin Encarnacion||15-Day DL||Left wrist surgery - out for season|
|September 13, 2013||Brett Cecil||60-Day DL||Left elbow discomfort|
|September 08, 2013||Moises Sierra||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
TORONTO (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Rays have left themselves with a pretty big Game 162.
Tampa Bay dropped game into a tie with Texas for the second AL wild-card berth, losing to Toronto 7-2 Saturday. Ryan Goins and Kevin Pillar hit two-run home runs for the Blue Jays, and J.A. Happ won for the first time in four starts.
Cleveland (91-70) opened a one-game lead over the Rays and Rangers (both 90-71) for the wild card by stretching its winning streak to nine with a victory at Minnesota.
"I'm excited for tomorrow," Rays slugger Evan Longoria said. "We like to make it interesting, that's for sure."
Tampa Bay won the wild card in 2011 when Evan Longoria 's 12th-inning homer beat the New York Yankees 8-7, capping a seven-run comeback. Boston's loss at Baltimore that night put the Rays into the postseason.
"We've been here before, we've been in these moments," manager Joe Maddon said. "We never do things seemingly easily so let's just play tomorrow and see what happens."
The Rays lost their second straight following a seven-game winning streak. There's still a chance of a two- or three-way tie, which would necessitate one or more tiebreaker games. Maddon isn't fretting over numerous possible outcomes.
"The only scenario is whatever helps us win tomorrow," Maddon said. "That's the only scenario that matters. And then, you just react to everything else."
Adam Lind had two hits and three RBIs, and Brett Lawrie reached base four times as the Blue Jays continued to make life tough for the Rays, who start left-hander Matt Moore (16-4) on Sunday against Blue Jays rookie right-hander Todd Redmond (4-2).
"I'm totally confident in our guys," Maddon said. "I really believe that you're going to see the best side of Matt Moore tomorrow."
Moore is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts against Toronto this season and has lost just once to the Blue Jays in six career meetings.
"It's a big game, big opportunity," Moore said. "I'm looking to throw up zeros any way I can."
Redmond was born in St. Petersburg, where his parents once were Rays season ticket holders.
"We have a chance to knock them out," Redmond said. "That's baseball. Hopefully we can pull it off."
Maddon insisted his bullpen is in good shape even after Saturday's starter, Chris Archer , lasted just 2 1-3 innings. The right-hander, who allowed one run and five hits, is 1-2 with a 4.78 ERA in his last six starts.
Happ (5-7) pitched a season-high 7 1-3 innings, allowing one run and five hits to win for the first time since Sept. 7 at Minnesota.
"It feels really good," Happ said. "I've been working and battling and feeling like I was close. I feel like finally the last several starts I've kind of been putting it together. It feels good to end on a good note."
Tampa Bay opened the scoring for the second straight game when Ben Zobrist hit a leadoff double in the first and scored when Wil Myers singled off the glove of Lawrie at third.
Lind's RBI single tied it in the third as the Blue Jays started the inning with three straight singles off Archer, who left after striking out Sierra. Alex Torres (4-2) came on and stranded runners at second and third.
Lind made it 3-1 with a two-out, two-run single down the third base line off Torres in the fourth, and the Blue Jays pulled away with a four-run fifth.
Anthony Gose led off with a single and scored when Goins homered off Jamey Wright . Ryan Langerhans singled and, one out later, Pillar homered off Brandon Gomes .
Aaron Loup came on after pinch-hitter Tim Beckham singled in the eighth and needed just five pitches to finish the inning.
Dustin McGowan gave up Delmon Young 's RBI grounder in the ninth as the Blue Jays evened their home record at 40-40.
NOTES: The Rays lost consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 10-11 against Boston. ... Lawrie went 2 for 3 and walked twice. ... Lind returned to the lineup at DH after missing two games with a sore back. He was replaced by pinch-hitter Munenori Kawasaki in the fifth. ... Rays SS Yunel Escobar (left ankle) started for the first time since Tuesday. ... Blue Jays assistant GM Jay Sartori is leaving the team next month for a job with Apple Inc.