Pena homers, Davis wins 6th straight for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — 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.

Updated August 30, 2010