Rays cut Red Sox’s lead to half-game
B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist homered in the first inning to back Wade Davis, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 Sunday to pull within a half-game of the Boston Red Sox for the AL wild-card lead.
Evan Longoria and Kelly Shoppach also homered for the Rays, who have won 27 games in a row when scoring five runs or more. Davis (11-10) allowed two runs and three hits in eight innings, and Joel Peralta finished for his sixth save in eight chances.
Nine games back of the Red Sox heading into play on Sept. 4, Tampa Bay would move into a tie for the wild-card lead if the Yankees completed a sweep of Boston in their day-night doubleheader.
Tampa Bay closes at home against the Yankees, while the Red Sox play at Baltimore.
Toronto’s Jose Bautista, the major league leader with 43 homers, appeared to hurt his left leg on Zobrist’s first-inning homer, hitting the right-field fence hard while attempting to make a catch. Mark Teahen hit for Bautista in the sixth inning.
Upton homered with one out and Zobrist hit an inside-the-park homer to right with two outs, also off Brett Cecil (4-11).
David Cooper hit an RBI double in the second, but Longoria’s two-run homer made it 4-1 in the third. He has driven in 82 runs over his last 95 games.
After Toronto’s Dewayne Wise had a solo homer in the fifth, Shoppach hit a sixth-inning shot.
Cecil gave up four runs and five hits in 3 1-3 innings. He is 0-7 with a 5.16 ERA in his last 10 starts.
NOTES: RHP James Shields (15-12), who leads the majors with 11 complete games this season, will start Monday night’s game against the Yankees. He will be followed in the series by Jeremy Hellickson (13-10) and David Price (12-13). … Blue Jays CF Colby Rasmus was late scratch due to fulike symptoms. 1B Adam Lind, who left the team Friday for the birth of his child, missed his third straight game. … Toronto manager John Farrell will miss Monday night’s game with the Chicago White Sox to be with his 20-year old son Luke, who is having scheduled surgery. … Zobrist has four homers in his last eight games after going 39 games without one. … Farrell said it’s becoming more unlikely that SS Yunel Escobar (left elbow) will play again this season. … Toronto RHP Dustin McGowan (0-1) and White Sox RHP Dylan Axelrod (0-0) will pitch Monday’s series opener.