Rays 2, Blue Jays 1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)
Good pitching, even better defense and just enough offense to win another one-run game.
The Tampa Bay Rays have been doing it all season and aren't about to apologize for their style.
''That's what we are,'' second baseman Sean Rodriguez said Wednesday night after making a couple of nice defensive plays, smacking a solo homer and finishing a double shy of the cycle in a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
''Just another well-played baseball game with pitching and defense at the forefront,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon agreed. ''It was fun to watch.''
Price (16-6) allowed a solo homer to John Buck, a double and two infield singles over eight innings. The 25-year-old left-hander walked two and struck out seven before Rafael Soriano worked out of a jam in the ninth for his major league-leading 40th save in 42 opportunities.
''Old-school baseball with occasional pop,'' Buck said, describing Tampa Bay, which at 82-51 has ensured a third consecutive winning season.
The Rays are the eighth team in major league history to post winning records three straight years following 10 or more consecutive winning seasons.
''They've got baseball players over there. They know how to play the game. They play the game right,'' Buck said. ''They're not even getting hits and somehow they're producing runs. That's kind of Tampa's game, you know? They do that.''
The Rays remained a game behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East. New York beat Oakland 4-3 for its fifth straight victory.
''We battled all game, we've battled all year,'' Price said. ''That's Rays baseball. ... We don't give up.''
Rodriguez homered, tripled and singled off Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum. He was denied a chance to go for the cycle when he was intentionally walked to load the bases after Longoria delivered his go-ahead hit off Scott Downs.
''Actually, it wasn't frustrating,'' Rodriguez said. ''That was a first in my career.''
Ben Zobrist began the winning rally by drawing a one-out walk from Shawn Camp (4-3). Carl Crawford singled and Longoria, who has 17 RBIs in his past 18 games, hit a hard grounder between shortstop and third base to snap a 1-all tie.
''Buck just missed that ball,'' Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. ''A pretty good game, but it still goes on the other side, the loss column.''
The victory gave Tampa Bay its 11th consecutive home series win over Toronto, when hasn't won a series at Tropicana Field since April 2007.
With rosters expanding Wednesday, Maddon tinkered with his lineup - inserting rookie Desmond Jennings in right field, starting catcher Dioner Navarro and using former Colorado Rockies All-Star Brad Hawpe as the designated hitter in his AL debut.
The trio went 1 for 7 with four strikeouts against Marcum, who walked B.J. Upton intentionally to load the bases with two outs in the fifth to face Jennings. The 23-year-old, one of baseball's top prospects, hit a dribbler that Marcum scrambled to field with his bare hand in front of the plate before flipping the ball to the catcher for a force out.
Price limited the Blue Jays to Mike McCoy's third-inning infield single until Buck hit his 15th homer leading off the fifth. Jose Bautista doubled over Jennings' head in right field with two outs in the sixth, but the Rays' starter escaped further damage when Wells flied out.
''Unbelievable,'' Rodriguez said of Price's performance. ''That's the Price we've come to know and love right there.''
Marcum allowed one run and five hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
Hawpe, a 2009 All-Star who struggled this year before being released by Colorado, signed a minor league contract with Tampa Bay last week. He was 0 for 4 with four strikeouts, fanning three times with runners in scoring position.
Notes: Rays RHP Grant Balfour (ribs) was activated from the 15-day disabled list after pitching in a simulated game. ... Blue Jays 1B Lyle Overbay (left eye contusion) was out of the lineup for the fifth consecutive game, but could return this weekend. ... Toronto SS Yunel Escobar (stiff back) missed his fourth straight game and is not expected to play until Saturday. ... Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson, 3-0 in four starts over two stints in the majors last month, was recalled from Class-A Charlotte and will pitch out of the bullpen. ... The Blue Jays recalled C J.P. Arencibia from Triple-A Las Vegas and reinstated LHP David Purcey (right foot) from the 15-day disabled list. ... Maddon will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree from his alma mater, Lafayette College, on Thursday. ... Toronto LF Fred Lewis left in the sixth with a right elbow strain.