Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Jerry Sands hit the go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning, helping Tampa Bay take a 4-3 victory over Houston in Sunday's rubber match of a three-game series.
Yunel Escobar finished with two hits and two RBI for the Rays, who have taken three of four overall. Desmond Jennings also drove in a run as Tampa claimed its first series win since May 23-25 against the Red Sox.
David Price (5-6) threw 116 pitches through eight innings for the win, allowing five hits and three runs while fanning 10 without walking a batter. Jake McGee tossed a scoreless ninth to pick up his first save.
"It's been a while. I didn't remember my last win until about five minutes ago, think it was like three road trips ago," Price said about his last win, which actually happened on May 13 in Seattle. "It's been rough. That was big. Hopefully it can get us going in the right direction."
Dexter Fowler and Matt Dominguez hit solo homers for the Astros, who lost for just the fourth time in their last 10.
Jerome Williams (1-3) was tagged in defeat for two runs on five hits over his two-inning relief stint.
Joyce began the eighth with a single, then Escobar was plunked, setting the stage for Sands' pinch-hit base hit to put Tampa Bay on top by a 4-3 count. The deciding single came after a protracted battle to keep his bats intact.
"I don't think I've ever broken two in one at-bat, but three in consecutive swings, that's pretty crazy," Sands admitted.
A Jennings sacrifice bunt put two in scoring position, then the Astros engaged in a bit of rule-bending with their pitchers. Tony Sipp came in and Kevin Kiermaier reached on a fielder's choice where Escobar was out at the plate. Josh Zeid then took the mound, with Sipp going to left field instead of the dugout.
Evan Longoria fanned against Zeid to keep it a one-run margin, but Sipp returned to the mound to pitch the top of the ninth, recording two outs before Kyle Farnsworth fanned pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez.
"We felt like at that juncture of the game, it was the best move to give us an opportunity to win the game," Astros manager Bo Porter said of the maneuver. "It gave us an opportunity to mount a comeback against a one-run lead rather than a bigger deficit."
McGee gave up a one-out single to Dominguez, but retired the next two batters to close out the contest.
Houston provided starter Brad Peacock with a cushion heading to the second, after Fowler led off the first with his fifth homer of the season and Dominguez added his 10th three batters later.
Tampa picked up a run in the second thanks to a bases-loaded walk from Escobar which plated James Loney, who began the frame with a walk. Ben Zobrist singled and David DeJesus walked ahead of the run.
It was 3-1 for the Astros in the third, as Fowler hit a one-out double and scored two batters later on a Jesus Guzman base hit, but the Rays crept back within one in the fourth after DeJesus walked, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on an Escobar double.
Escobar and Jose Molina's consecutive one-out singles in the eighth put runners on the corners, then a Jennings fielder's choice grounder scored Escobar to tie the score.