ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays rebounded after a pair of bad losses.
Matt Moore won his sixth straight decision to start the season, Evan Longoria drove in three runs, and the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 10-4 on Wednesday night.
Tampa Bay lost the first two games of the series, blowing a seven-run lead Monday and a three-run advantage Tuesday.
“It’s been kind of difficult lately,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “But I believe we came to play every day after those tough losses. I don’t think we just mailed anything in after tough losses and that’s what I really appreciate about this group.”
Moore (6-0) overcame control issues, allowing two runs, six hits and four walks in five innings. The left-hander threw 104 pitches, including 56 strikes, during his seventh start of the year.
“You go back and look at this game, it wasn’t pretty,” Moore said of his performance. “I think there’s, maybe, two back to back hitters that I put some nice sequences together. But I just felt like from hitter to hitter it was changing. I was fighting a lot of different things tonight, mostly my control.”
Longoria had a two-run homer and RBI single, and Kelly Johnson had three hits, including a two-run shot.
Struggling Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero (0-2) gave up three run-scoring singles and got just one out during his second outing this year. The left-hander lost his rotation spot after a poor spring training and remained in Florida when the season began to work on mechanics.
“I thought he was a little tentative tonight,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “It was a struggle for him. It’s tough on everybody. You feel for the guy, but he’s a survivor. He’ll figure it out. He’s got to figure it out.”
Gibbons said he plans to have Romero make his next scheduled start.
“A little setback, but it’s not going to keep me down,” Romero said. “I’ll come back and go to work tomorrow and we’ll see what we can get better at.”
Less than 24 hours after he was hit on the head by a line drive and carted off the field, Toronto pitcher J.A. Happ was back at Tropicana Field.
The 30-year-old said he had a skull fracture behind his left ear that doctors believe will heal on its own, as well as a sore right knee that he tweaked when he dropped to the ground Tuesday night. He does not have a concussion.
“I feel really fortunate,” Happ said after limping into a room at the ballpark for a news conference and climbing a couple steps to sit down behind a table.
After Edwin Encarnacion put the Blue Jays up 2-0 with a two-run homer, Tampa Bay took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the first on bases-loaded singles by Longoria, James Loney and Luke Scott off Romero.
Tampa Bay went ahead 4-2 in the second on Ben Zobrist’s RBI single. Longoria made it 6-2 on his two-run drive during the fourth.
Johnson’s homer came in a four-run sixth that extended the Tampa Bay lead to 10-2. He has 13 RBIs over his last 10 games.
Toronto loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth, but failed to score when Moore struck out Mark DeRosa on a 3-2 pitch.
Encarnacion drove in his third run with a sacrifice fly in a two-run seventh.
Thursday night’s series finale will have Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (2-5) going against Tampa Bay’s David Price (1-3) in a matchup of reigning Cy Young Award winners and friends.
“Neither one of us are probably where we want to be at this part of the year,” Dickey said. “I think he would say the same thing, but it’s special anytime the reigning Cy Young Award winners face each other.”
The Rays say it’s just the third time since the Cy Young was awarded to both leagues (1969) that a pair of winners faced each other the following season. Tom Glavine of Atlanta beat the New York Yankees’ Roger Clemens on July 15, 1999, while New York Mets left-hander Frank Viola bested the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Orel Hershiser on Aug. 28, 1989.
“I first met R.A. in the offseason of 2008 when we played catch together and we worked out at the same place a couple of times,” Price said. “Just being around him, I didn’t know how funny he is, how personable he is, how easy he is to talk to. He’s just a really good dude.”
NOTES: Romero has lost 15 of his last 16 decisions. … Maddon won his 600th game as Rays manager, but wasn’t around to see the end after being ejected by plate umpire Scott Barry in the sixth. It was the second straight game Maddon was tossed by the umpires. … The Blue Jays placed Happ on the 15-day disabled list and purchased the contract of RHP Edgar Gonzalez from Triple-A Buffalo. … Loney and Scott both had two RBIs.