Rookie Solak homers off trade partner, Rangers top Rays 6-4

Texas Rangers' Nick Solak watches his two-run home run, next to Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Arli

Texas Rangers' Nick Solak watches his two-run home run, next to Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Arli

Tampa Bay Rays' Peter Fairbanks throws to a Texas Rangers batter during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 12,

Tampa Bay Rays' Peter Fairbanks throws to a Texas Rangers batter during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 12,

Texas Rangers' Nick Solak runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Ar

Texas Rangers' Nick Solak runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Ar

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Kolby Allard throws to a Tampa Bay Rays batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Thursday

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Kolby Allard throws to a Tampa Bay Rays batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Thursday

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Brendan McKay throws to a Texas Rangers batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Thursday, Texa

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Brendan McKay throws to a Texas Rangers batter during the first inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Thursday, Texa

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Nick Solak homered off the pitcher he was traded for two months ago, and Texas beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 on Thursday night, giving the Rangers consecutive series victories for the first time since June.

The rookie's two-run shot off hard-throwing reliever Peter Fairbanks put the Rangers up 5-1 in the fourth inning as Texas (74-74) reached .500 for the first time since Aug. 14 with their sixth win in seven games.

The Rays (87-61) dropped their second straight game following a six-game winning streak that matched a season high. They started the day a half-game ahead of Oakland for the AL wild-card lead.

Solak and Fairbanks were swapped July 13, a little more than a month before the Texas infielder and designated hitter made his major league debut and about a month after the fellow rookie Fairbanks first pitched for the Rangers.

Ji-Man Choi set a Tampa Bay record by reaching base 10 straight times over three games. He opened with a single before walking four straight times, the last one in the ninth before Nate Lowe grounded into a game-ending double play.

Luke Farrell preserved a one-run lead after Texas starter Kolby Allard allowed all five batters he faced in the fifth inning to reach, just after Solak capped a four-run inning that broke a 1-all tie. Austin Meadows' two-run double and an RBI single from Tommy Pham got the Rays close.

Farrell (1-0) struck out a pair with two runners on, then retired Daniel Robertson on a flyout after Joey Wendle's infield single loaded the bases. The right-hander pitched a perfect sixth. Jose Leclerc worked the ninth for his 13th save.

Brendan McKay (2-4) lost his third straight decision, allowing three runs in 3 1/3 innings to push the left-hander's ERA to 5.27.

It's been 2½ months since the 23-year-old rookie beat the Rangers with Tampa Bay's longest scoreless outing in a major league debut, retiring the first 16 Texas batters over six innings in a 5-2 win.

Rougned Odor's 26th homer was a solo shot in the seventh for the Rangers, not long after manager Chris Woodward was ejected by home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski, apparently for arguing balls and strikes with Texas reliever Jonathan Hernández on the mound.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: OF Kevin Kiermaier said he would be available off the bench after a stiff neck sidelined him for the first two games in the ballpark where he made his major league debut as a defensive replacement in a tiebreaker for an AL wild-card spot in 2013.

Rangers: OF Hunter Pence, who made his fourth All-Star team after deciding not to retire and joining the Rangers on a minor league contract, came closer to acknowledging that a back injury will sideline him for the rest of the season. The 36-year-old suggested his focus has turned to the offseason, and preparing to play again next year. Manager Chris Woodward said the Rangers want him back if it makes sense for the roster.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.11 ERA) is set for the opener of a three-game series at the LA Angels on Friday. The two-time All-Star is trying to become a 15-game winner for the second straight season.

Rangers: LHP Brock Burke (0-1, 3.52) is set for his fifth career start in the opener of a three-game series at home against another AL wild-card contender in Oakland. The 23-year-old was acquired from Tampa Bay in the offseason in a three-team trade that also involved the A's.

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