The bases were loaded with no outs in the eighth inning and the Rays were clinging to a two-run lead. Jeremy Hellickson said he was nervous, which was OK, because Hellickson wasn't pitching. Joel Peralta was, and that actually made Hellickson feel a lot better. The Rays have seen Peralta work himself out of trouble before, but Saturday's performance against the Blue Jays might have been his best. "It was Houdini-esque," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. Peralta retired the side, striking out the final two batters he faced, Fernando Rodney pitched himself into and out of trouble in the ninth inning and the Rays left the Rogers Centre with a 4-3 victory. "(This) was really big," Peralta said. "I've probably had some of those before, but as important as this game is right now, we're in second place a couple of games behind Boston, so this is on top of (the list)." The Rays have won 19 of their past 23 games, a streak matched by the 2004 and 2008 teams. They are a season-high 16 games over .500 and 2-0 on this 10-game road trip. Hellickson, who said he was feeling a bit lightheaded before he took the mound on a hot summer afternoon near Lake Ontario, went five innings to improve to 9-3. The offense, with two more hits from Wil Myers and bunt singles by Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist, did just enough against Mark Buehrle for the victory. The game was following a familiar script until the eighth inning. Maddon, who used Kyle Farnsworth to start the eighth inning during Friday's win, stayed with Alex Torres, who threw two perfect innings after replacing Hellickson. The plan is to reduce Peralta's workload. "I think they try to give me a rest but it's not working right now," Peralta said. "I don't know. It's kind of backwards. I'm getting in there and throwing more pitches, but I'm glad it worked out today." Farnsworth walked the only batter he faced Friday, and Peralta had to come in and get three outs.
Rays beat Jays to get 12th win in 13 games
Tampa Tribune | Jul 21