James Loney was back home celebrating the birth of his first child, and Yunel Escobar was on the bench nursing a tight hamstring, so the Tampa Bay Rays were a little, well, hamstrung Friday night when they began the second half of the season against the Blue Jays. It didn't look good when the Jays used three home runs to build a 4-1 lead against David Price after three innings. But the Rays rallied. The fill-ins came up big. Price slammed the door on the Jays hitters and the end result was an 8-5 victory that pushed the Rays to a season-high 15 games over .500. "That's a Rays win," Price said. It was also the 11th win in their last 12 games. The Rays have also won 18 of their last 22. "Pretty much got to consider that a team win right there," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We were minus two of our better defenders and everybody picked it up." Kelly Johnson, filling in for Loney at first base, had two hits, including a home run that tied the score at 4-4 in the sixth inning, and a leadoff single in the eighth that produced the go-ahead run. Ryan Roberts, called back up from Triple-A Durham to replace Loney while he's on paternity leave, was hitless in three at-bats before he singled home Johnson in the eighth to give the Rays a 5-4 lead. That run was set up by a sacrifice bunt by Sean Rodriguez on an 0-2 count that moved Johnson into scoring position. "I just thought the play that had the best opportunity on July 19 at the particular moment was the bunt," said Maddon, who normally does not like to sacrifice. The Rays matched their season high with four home runs - all solo shots off Jays starter Esmil Rogers, who has allowed seven solo home runs to the Rays this season. Yet the comeback was made possible by Price, who allowed the Jays to take a 4-1 lead with a three-run third inning before retiring nine of the final 10 batters he faced. "Our guys battled all year long. They never quit," Price said. "I wanted to keep it right where it was at 4-1 and give them a chance to feel they could come back." Price allowed three home runs - solo shots to Edward Encarnacion and J.P. Arencibia and a two-run blast to Jose Bautista. His four runs allowed ended the Rays' streak of quality starts at 15.
Rays outslug Jays to start second half
Tampa Tribune | Jul 20