MILWAUKEE — Rowdy Tellez hit a tying homer in the ninth inning and made a key defensive play in the 10th, setting up Willy Adames‘ game-ending RBI single that gave the Milwaukee Brewers a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.
Adames had struck out in his previous three at-bats before he came up in the 10th following an intentional walk to Christian Yelich. His grounder off Ryan Thompson (3-3) got past diving shortstop Taylor Walls and scored automatic runner Tyrone Taylor from second base.
“I always get excited,” Adames said about the free pass to Yelich. “It kind of like pumps me up. I’ve got to do it now.”
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said: “I always think that does something for the hitter, a little bit. It means they want to face you, and I just think that gives you a little bit of extra. You’re having a tough day but you have a shot to win the game, and it’s a brand-new at-bat and a brand-new game.”
Milwaukee completed a two-game sweep of Tampa Bay and moved within one-half game of NL Central-leading St. Louis, which was playing at Colorado on Wednesday night. The Brewers are 3-5 since trading closer Josh Hader to San Diego at the deadline.
The Rays fell even with division rival Baltimore for the final AL wild card.
In the top of the 10th, first baseman Tellez fielded Walls’ grounder and threw to third to cut down automatic runner Francisco Mejia. Catcher Victor Caratini then threw out Walls trying to steal second.
Tellez, who entered as a pinch-hitter in the sixth, led off the ninth with his 23rd homer, a drive to center off Colin Poche that made it 3-3.
“I’ve played against him a couple times. I don’t think I’ve ever got a hit. I think I struck out every single time,” Tellez said. “Really, in that 3-2 count, really just wanted to see something up in the zone and try to hit a ball the other way, hit a line drive, just get on base, start off the inning. I was able to put a good swing on it. The ball carried out.”
Randy Arozarena hit his first homer since July 17, a 431-foot shot off Milwaukee starter Brandon Woodruff in the seventh that put the Rays ahead 3-2. Yu Chang homered in the fifth off Woodruff, who allowed three runs on four hits in seven innings.
“Milner’s tough, keeps the ball down, but would like to think that we can put a little pressure on the defense right there with some contact, but we weren’t able to do that,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said.
Rays starter Jeffrey Springs gave up two runs in five innings while striking out eight.
Milwaukee took a 2-0 lead in the first thanks in part to a pair of soft fly balls that landed for singles in shallow left field.
Andrew McCutchen doubled, then scored on Mike Brosseau‘s single. Springs was then called for a balk while pitching to Hunter Renfroe, walked Renfroe, and gave up a single by Keston Hiura that scored Brosseau.
David Peralta got the Rays on the board with an RBI single in the third.
Rays: RHP J.P. Feyereisen (shoulder) will undergo an MRI on Thursday after he didn’t feel well his last time throwing. He has been on the injured list since June 3.
Brewers: RHP Adrian Houser (elbow) has a rehabilitation appearance for Triple-A Nashville on Thursday.
Milwaukee ended Tampa Bay’s fourth inning when Adames went in the hole between shortstop and third to snag Arozarena’s grounder, planted hard and threw a two-hopper to Hiura at first. Hiura had to stretch toward right field to scoop the ball before landing on both hands while keeping a foot on the bag. … Brewers center fielder Tyrone Taylor ran to his left and did a headlong dive to snatch a line drive from Mejia in the fifth. … Center fielder Siri did a somersault and shoulder shimmy after diving to catch a sinking liner from Yelich in the fifth.
The Rays have won only one of six series since the All-Star break. Entering Wednesday, the were averaging 3.41 runs per game since the break, last in the AL.
Rays: Host their fellow playoff-contending AL East rival Baltimore for a three-game series starting Friday with Corey Kluber (7-6, 4.05 ERA) on the mound.