Evan Longoria swats two-run homer to extend lead over Rangers

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Evan Longoria played hero in Game 162 for the Rays two years ago. And he’s trying to do it in Game 163 tonight.

Longoria just smacked an opposite-field two-run homer off Martin Perez in the top of the third inning to extend the Rays’ lead to 3-0 over the Rangers. Perez issued a leadoff walk to Desmond Jennings before striking out Wil Myers and getting Ben Zobrist to fly out to right, but the free pass came back to bite him with Longoria’s long blast to right-center field.

Tonight’s numbers count toward season totals, so Longoria is up to 32 home runs on the year, his most since 2009. Amazingly, he now has seven career home runs on the final day of the regular season.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.