Kenley Jansen has got his groove back with the playoffs nearing.
He got four outs for his 30th save of the season, Corey Seager drove in four runs, including a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh, and the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-5 Tuesday night.
Jansen struck out two and induced grounders from the other two batters he faced to close out the Dodgers’ 98th win of the season. The veteran notched his sixth straight season with 30-plus saves and now has 298.
“Every day just baby steps, keep working on my mechanics to make sure I stay sharp,” said Jansen, who struggled mightily at times this season and even got booed in his own ballpark. “This is the best I felt all year.”
Seager’s ground-rule double in the fifth was the Dodgers’ first hit of the game and briefly gave them a 2-1 lead.
His double in the seventh was Seager’s 41st of the season, a career high. His first double made Seager one of six Dodgers with two 40-plus double seasons and the first since Shawn Green in 2003.
“He adds so much length to our lineup,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
The Dodgers broke the game open in the seventh with five runs and five hits.
Pete Fairbanks (1-3) gave up Seager’s RBI double in the inning. He walked Will Smith before rookie Gavin Lux singled up the middle to chase Fairbanks and make it 5-2.
“I’m trying to throw something that looks like a strike but isn’t and he put a good swing on it,” Fairbanks said of Seager’s hit. “Didn’t execute it as well as I could have.”
A.J. Pollock followed with an RBI single off Cole Sulser before Cody Bellinger’s RBI double extended the Dodgers’ lead to 7-2.
The Rays answered with three runs in the eighth off Kenta Maeda (10-8), including a two-run homer by pinch-hitter Jesús Aguilar that left them trailing 7-5.
“We put some pressure on them but obviously not enough and probably a little bit too late,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Tampa Bay had its lead for the second AL wild card cut to one-half game over Cleveland.
Seager nearly had a homer in the eighth but left fielder Tommy Pham made a leaping grab near the wall to rob him.
Each team ran through eight pitchers.
Ji-Man Choi hit a solo homer off Pedro Baez that tied the game 2-all in the sixth.
The Rays led 1-0 on Willy Adames’ sacrifice fly to right field in the second. It scored Joey Wendle, who walked, stole second and took third on a balk by Caleb Ferguson.
Caleb Ferguson made his second start for the Dodgers after being in the bullpen most of the season. The left-hander allowed one run and no hits in 1 2/3 innings. He struck out one and walked two. Ferguson replaced scheduled starter Ross Stripling, who pitched in relief, which will be his role in the postseason.
Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell struck out four in two innings in his return from arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow July 25. Last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner faced six batters.
“Couldn’t have asked for much more from him,” Cash said. “You always wonder, with not getting reps or that amount of reps, what’s the command going to be? The power was tremendous, the fastball command was great.”
Rays: RHP Yonny Chirinos (right middle finger inflammation) could return as a starter or work out of the bullpen when he returns. Either way, he would likely only pitch a couple innings due to his lengthy absence. … INF Brandon Lowe (right shin, left quad) played in an instructional league game in Florida, but has hurdles to clear before he could return to the active roster.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (left knee strain) threw a bullpen session. His knee has no structural damage and it’s more about tolerating stress on his knee. … 3B Justin Turner continues to improve from a sprained left ankle. He hasn’t played since Sept. 7.
OF Alex Verdugo (right oblique strain) has yet to be cleared for baseball activities, but hopes to return if the Dodgers reach the NL Championship Series. He said his oblique feels good, but his back is stiff and painful at times. It locked up on him while swinging in a rehab assignment at Ogden, Utah. “It’s extremely disappointing,” he said. “I love to play. I miss it a lot. I got to stay positive.” Verdugo isn’t sure if he will go to the team’s spring training facility in Arizona to rehab. He was sidelined for his bobblehead night Tuesday. He called his likeness “very accurate.” Verdugo saw an early rendering of it and asked if a neck chain could be added. He typically wears multiple jewel-encrusted necklaces, and the maker obliged.
Rays: LHP Brendan McKay (2-4, 2.57 ERA) is 0-3 with a 6.50 ERA in his last five starts since Aug. 7. He’s never faced the Dodgers and has made just one interleague start in his career.
Dodgers: RHP Tony Gonsolin (3-2, 2.83) gets the start after allowing one earned run and two hits in three innings of relief last week at Baltimore.
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