Rays 6, Blue Jays 2

The Tampa Bay Rays have almost everything they could want for a
September playoff run.

They’re in first place, and they’re getting big hits and
powerful pitching.

Now they just need some more fans to show up.

Carlos Pena homered and drove in four runs, Wade Davis won his
sixth straight decision and the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2
before an announced crowd of just 11,968 on Monday night.

The sparse gathering came one day after the AL East co-leading
Rays completed a three-game series against Boston in which Tampa
Bay took two of three.

”It was a big letdown,” Rays All-Star left fielder Carl
Crawford said. ”We came out all fired up and you see that, it’s
really depressing.”

The three games with Boston, which has fallen seven games behind
Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees in the divisional and AL
wild-card races, drew crowds of 29,461, 36,973 and 23,438.

”There’s nothing we can do about that anymore, honestly,” Rays
manager Joe Maddon said . ”Whether it’s winning or losing or
whatever, we can’t even be concerned about that. Of course it’s
disappointing, but we do appreciate the group that did come out.
It’s too bad because you’re missing really good baseball.”

The Rays had no letdown during the game, winning for the 12th
time in 16 games.

”Our guys are so good about being ready right now,” Maddon
said. ”You come into the dugout before the game and you could feel
the intensity of the group. I wasn’t concerned. I really thought we
were ready to play and obviously we were.”

Pena made it 5-1 with a three-run homer off Brett Cecil (11-7)
in the third.

”This is the time of year he usually gets really hot,”
Crawford said.

Davis (11-9) allowed two runs and six hits in 7 2-3 innings. The
right-hander has the longest winning streak by a rookie in
franchise history. He had shared with Jeff Niemann (2008) and
Victor Zambrano (2001).

Chad Qualls replaced Davis with two on and two outs in the
eighth and struck out Jose Bautista, who leads the majors with 42
home runs.

Aaron Hill hit his 20th homer of the season for the Blue
Jays.

Cecil, who had beaten Tampa Bay in three other starts this
season, gave up five runs – two earned – and five hits over seven
innings.

The speedy Crawford reached when Hill was charged with an error
after moving in from second base and then misplaying a slow
grounder with two outs in the third. After Evan Longoria had an
infield single, Pena hit an opposite-field drive to left for his
26th homer this season.

”He just missed the ball,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said
of Hill. ”Speed plays a role. That’s why we’re trying to get some
speed on this team because it makes (fielders) hurry.”

Crawford had an RBI double and Pena hit a sacrifice fly to put
the Rays up 2-0 in the first. Longoria had a sacrifice fly during
the eighth that extended the Tampa Bay advantage to 6-2.

The Blue Jays pulled within 2-1 on a third-inning grounder by
Travis Snider. Hill, who hit his 20th double this year during the
second, added a fifth-inning solo homer.

The time of the game was a crisp 2 hours, 14 minutes.

Notes: The Rays are a major league-best 31-14 against
left-handed starters. … Toronto 1B Lyle Overbay missed his third
consecutive game. Gaston said Overbay continues to not feel well
and is undergoing tests. … Tampa Bay reliever Grant Balfour
(ribs) threw a perfect inning in his second minor league appearance
for Class-A Charlotte. … Blue Jays INF Yunel Escobar sat out for
the second straight game with a stiff back. … Toronto OF Vernon
Wells was rested. … Longoria has 16 RBIs in his last 16
games.