Blue Jays-Rays Preview

A ninth-inning rally in their last game helped the Tampa Bay

Rays extend their home dominance of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Rays look to continue that success when they try for a

fourth straight overall victory against the Blue Jays, who hope to

avoid matching a season high with their fourth consecutive defeat

Wednesday night.

B.J. Upton’s two-run homer in the ninth inning Tuesday gave

Tampa Bay (16-13) a 3-2 win in the series opener.

“That was pretty cool,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

The Rays are 26-8 against the Blue Jays (13-16) at Tropicana

Field since Toronto last won a series there April 6-8, 2007.

Tampa Bay, which took of three at Toronto last month, has won 15

of 20 overall since starting the season 1-8.

The winner was Upton’s only hit in four at-bats, but he is 9 for

27 with two homers and seven RBIs over his last seven games.

All-Star Evan Longoria went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts in his

first game since missing 26 with a left oblique strain. The Rays

third baseman is 1 for 9 in three games.

Tampa Bay’s Jeff Niemann (1-3, 5.60) looks to build on his first

victory and best outing of 2011 in this game.

The right-hander allowed five or more runs in three of his first

four starts before yielding one run and two hits in seven innings

of a 6-1 win at Minnesota on Thursday.

“It was a huge confidence boost,” said Niemann, who took a

no-hitter into the seventh. “It was something that I needed.”

Niemann is 3-2 with a 4.99 ERA in eight starts against

Toronto.

He will not have to face slugger Jose Bautista, who did not play

Tuesday because of back spasms and is likely out until Toronto’s

weekend home series versus Detroit.

Batting .357 with nine homers and 16 RBIs, Bautista underwent an

MRI that showed no structural issues.

“The MRI just shows the spasms,” manager John Farrell said.

“There’s no spine issues or anything like that. He’ll have to go

through some baseball activity once he’s symptom-free.”

Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion each had two hits with an RBI on

Tuesday as Toronto fell to 4-4 on a 10-game trip. Lind is batting

.452 with four home runs and 11 RBIs on the trip.

Brandon Morrow (0-1, 3.97) will make his third start since

coming off the disabled list due to forearm inflammation, and

second against the Rays this season.

After the right-hander gave up three runs and struck out 10 in 5

1-3 innings of a 6-4 loss to Tampa Bay in his 2011 debut April 23,

Morrow allowed two runs in six innings of a 5-2 win at Texas on

Thursday.

Morrow is 2-2 with a 2.33 ERA in five starts against the Rays,

going 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA in two at Tropicana Field.