TORONTO (AP) — There hasn’t been a whole lot of relief for Tampa Bay this season.
Fernando Rodney yielded a tying solo homer to Jose Bautista in the ninth inning, and the Rays went on to a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Bautista also had the winning RBI single in the 10th and went 4 for 4 with four RBIs. The Rays have blown 28 leads this season, including four in the ninth inning.
“It’s been kind of difficult,” manager Joe Maddon said. “That was another one that got away. Everybody is doing their best, they’re trying. It’s just not working out.”
Rodney has blown four opportunities in 13 chances this year after going 48 for 50 last season. Bautista connected on a full-count pitch in the ninth, sending a leadoff drive to left for his 11th homer.
“I think I made a good pitch and he hit a good pitch,” Rodney said. “When you have a type of hitter like that, like Bautista, and you make a good pitch and they hit your best pitch, there’s nothing you can do.”
Opponents have recorded 15 comeback wins against the Rays this year.
“The whole season has been a little bit upside down,” Maddon said. “The offense has contributed and we’ve still played wonderful defense. It’s just that the pitching, where it normally makes sense, right now it’s not making a whole lot of sense.”
Rodney insisted that the Rays will turn things around.
“We’re going to continue fighting,” he said. “We have a good team. We have to pull everything together.”
Facing Cesar Ramos (1-1), Colby Rasmus reached on an infield single to begin the 10th. Rasmus moved to second on Emilio Bonifacio’s sacrifice, then took third on Munenori Kawasaki’s grounder. Pinch hitter Mark DeRosa walked and Kyle Farnsworth came on to face Bautista, who fell behind 0-2 before lining a single into shallow right for the Blue Jays’ first game-ending hit of the season.
“Any time the game is on the line you obviously want to be at the plate,” Bautista said. “I get a little more excited for those. It was a huge moment and I’m just glad I was able to get the ball through that hole and drive in the winning run.”
Aaron Loup (2-3) pitched one inning for the win as Toronto took two of three to win a series against Tampa Bay for the first time since August 2010. The Rays had won their past 15 series against the Blue Jays.
The teams were tied at 2 before Tampa Bay got a run in the ninth. Evan Longoria hit a one-out double off closer Casey Janssen, extending his hitting streak to 16 games, and James Loney followed with an RBI single.
But Rodney couldn’t nail down the save, with Bautista going deep to help Janssen avoid his first loss since April 26, 2012, at Baltimore.
Bautista said he feels comfortable facing Rodney, but refused to explain why.
“I think I have a different approach than everybody else,” he said. “I feel pretty comfortable at the plate when he’s on the mound. That’s pretty much all I can say about that.”
Bautista also hit a leadoff drive in the fourth off Jeremy Hellickson. It was his second multihomer game of the season and No. 19 for his career.
“Bautista had himself a pretty good day today,” Maddon said.
Toronto is the first team in the majors this season to have three players with 10 or more home runs. Edwin Encarnacion has 12 and J.P. Arencibia has 10.
Rodney got Encarnacion to ground out but was replaced after walking Adam Lind. Joel Peralta came on and sent it to extra innings by fanning Arencibia and retiring Brett Lawrie on a foulout.
Hellickson bounced back after giving up career highs of eight runs and 10 hits against Baltimore in his last outing. He allowed two runs and four hits in a season-high eight innings.
“He did really well,” Maddon said. “That was more like Helly tonight.”
Anthony Gose doubled on Hellickson’s first pitch of the game and scored when Bautista followed with a single. But Bautista was thrown out trying to advance to second on Encarnacion’s fly ball to left, and Hellickson set down his next seven batters.
The Rays took advantage of an error by second baseman Maicer Izturis to score two runs in the third. Jose Molina hit a one-out single and Desmond Jennings drew a two-out walk. Ryan Roberts hit a slow roller toward second but Izturis came up empty on an attempt to barehand the ball, allowing Molina to score. Ben Zobrist followed with an RBI single.
The Blue Jays tied it again, and snapped Hellickson’s streak of eight straight outs, when Bautista crushed the first pitch of the fourth into the second deck in left.
Toronto left-hander Mark Buehrle allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, matching his longest outing of the season. Buehrle has not won since April 15 against the Chicago White Sox, a span of seven starts.
NOTES: Longoria started at DH but came on as a defensive replacement at third base in the ninth. … Rays rookie RHP Jake Odorizzi will get an extra day of rest before his next start, Monday against Miami. The move means RHP Alex Cobb will start on regular rest on Sunday against the Yankees.