Price earns 16th win as Rays scrape past Jays

By FRED GOODALL

AP Baseball Writer

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.”

Evan Longoria snapped an eighth-inning tie with an RBI single, and

All-Star David Price earned his club-record 16th victory before a crowd

of just 14,859.

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.

The Blue Jays

threatened in the ninth. Vernon Wells tripled with one out, but Soriano

struck out Adam Lind and got Buck to fly out on the warning track in

left field to end the game.

“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.

Updated September 1, 2010