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Toronto at Tampa Bay

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Toronto000000320590
Tampa Bay «0110100036120

Iwamura hits first dinger in majors to help out Devil Rays

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Akinori Iwamura's confidence never wavered.

Tampa Bay's biggest offseason acquisition took another step in leaving behind a poor spring training Friday when he hit his first major league homer and finished 4-for-4 in the Devil Rays' 6-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I feel great pressure, but I'm enjoying it," the five-time Japanese League All-Star said through a translator.

Iwamura reached on a bunt single in the ninth inning and sprinted home to score the winning run on B.J. Upton's infield single with two outs.

Delmon Young erased a 5-3 deficit with a two-run homer off B.J. Ryan (0-1) in the ninth, then Iwamura set the stage for an exciting finish with a perfect bunt up the third-base line. Elijah Dukes' two-out single sent Iwamura to third and Upton drove him home with a high chopper that shortstop John McDonald was unable to field cleanly.

"You take them any way you can," Upton said. "It got the job done. We got a win and that's all that matters. It doesn't have to look pretty."

The Devil Rays led 3-0 before Toronto scored three runs in the seventh off right-hander James Shields. The Blue Jays went ahead on Troy Glaus' two-run homer off Shawn Camp in the eighth, and felt good about their chances of holding the lead with Ryan on the mound.

After all, he had saves in 14 consecutive appearances dating to last season.

But Ryan, who appeared in just four games during spring training because of a sore back, faltered badly after getting Rocco Baldelli to foul out to begin the ninth.

"There are no excuses when I'm out there pitching," Ryan said. "I've just got to get out there and make some pitches and let the guys behind me make some plays."

Jae Kuk Ryu (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to get his first big league win before a crowd of 38,437, just the fifth home sellout in Tampa Bay's 10-season history. The Devil Rays improved to 5-5 in home openers.

Iwamura, Upton and Ty Wigginton all homered off Toronto starter Gustavo Chacin, who allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. It was the second time the Devil Rays have hit three homers off the left-hander, who has yielded seven in four lifetime starts at Tropicana Field.

Iwamura, who signed a $7.7 million, three-year contract in December, is sizzling after batting .220 in spring training. He had three singles and has scored six runs and reached base in nine of 13 plate appearances in Tampa Bay's first three games.

"A lot of people were questioning his spring, but I felt this is a solid young professional. He's proved it up to this point," Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

"He's done a lot of really good things offensively and defensively. It's all about confidence. Right now, I'd have to believe after three games, his confidence is pretty high."

Shields limited Toronto to Vernon Wells' first-inning double and Royce Clayton's one-out single in third before the Blue Jays broke through for three runs in the seventh.

The Devil Rays starter retired 13 in a row before Alex Rios singled with two outs in the seventh and scored on Greg Zaun's triple that skipped past Young in right field. Aaron Hill followed with a RBI double that bounced over the wall in center field and Reed Johnson tied it with an RBI single that finished Shields.

Notes

  • Chacin has allowed 18 homers in 27 career road starts.
  • Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who grew up in St. Petersburg, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
  • The sellout was the smallest among the five in franchise history, and the first not to draw at least 40,000. The capacity for Tropicana Field is listed at 38,437. Last year's home opener drew 40,199.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

A. Iwamura
AB 4
R 2
H 4
HR 1
RBI 1
Tampa Bay

B. Upton
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Toronto Blue Jays
Reed Johnson, LF4011010 .214
Lyle Overbay, 1B4000003 .333
Vernon Wells, CF4010002 .308
Frank Thomas, DH4110001 .308
Troy Glaus, 3B3112100 .364
Alex Rios, RF4110011 .286
Gregg Zaun, C4111010 .167
Aaron Hill, 2B4121000 .333
Royce Clayton, SS2010010 .286
   a- Matt Stairs, PH0000100 .000
    John McDonald, PR-SS1000000 .000
Totals3459524  
a-walked for Clayton in the 7th
Batting
2B - Vernon Wells (2, Shields), Aaron Hill (1, Shields)
3B - Gregg Zaun (1, Shields)
HR - Troy Glaus (1, Camp)
RBI - Reed Johnson (2), Troy Glaus 2 (3), Gregg Zaun (2), Aaron Hill (3)
2-OUT RBI - Reed Johnson (1), Gregg Zaun (1), Aaron Hill (3)
CS - Troy Glaus (1, 2nd base by Shields/Navarro), Aaron Hill (1, 2nd base by Ryu/Navarro)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Glaus-Hill-Overbay, Hill-McDonald-Overbay
Toronto Blue Jays
Gustavo Chacin 6633023 4.50
Casey Janssen 1.1100000 0.00
Jason Frasor (H,1) 0.2000000 0.00
B.J. Ryan (BS,1; L,0-1) 0.2533001 16.20
Pitches-Strikes - Gustavo Chacin 82-60, Casey Janssen 13-9, Jason Frasor 10-7, B.J. Ryan 24-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gustavo Chacin 9-6, Casey Janssen 3-0, Jason Frasor 1-1
Batters Faced - Gustavo Chacin 23, Casey Janssen 4, Jason Frasor 2, B.J. Ryan 7
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Carl Crawford, LF4000000 .333
Ben Zobrist, SS4000002 .077
Rocco Baldelli, DH4000000 .125
Ty Wigginton, 1B4221000 .273
Delmon Young, RF4112020 .231
Akinori Iwamura, 3B4241000 .636
Dioner Navarro, C3010002 .143
   a- Jonny Gomes, PH1000001 .200
Elijah Dukes, CF4020000 .364
B.J. Upton, 2B4122002 .500
Totals36612602  
a-flied out for Navarro in the 9th
Batting
HR - Ty Wigginton (1, Chacin), Delmon Young (1, Ryan), Akinori Iwamura (1, Chacin), B.J. Upton (1, Chacin)
RBI - Ty Wigginton (2), Delmon Young 2 (4), Akinori Iwamura (1), B.J. Upton 2 (3)
2-OUT RBI - B.J. Upton (2)
Team LOB - 4
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
James Shields 6.2633230 4.05
Brian Stokes 0.1000000 3.00
Shawn Camp 0.2222001 18.00
Jae-Kuk Ryu (W,1-0) 1.1100010 0.00
HBP - Johnson (by James Shields)
Pitches-Strikes - James Shields 103-67, Brian Stokes 5-3, Shawn Camp 13-9, Jae-Kuk Ryu 15-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James Shields 10-6, Shawn Camp 1-1, Jae-Kuk Ryu 2-0
Batters Faced - James Shields 28, Brian Stokes 1, Shawn Camp 4, Jae-Kuk Ryu 4
Game Information
Attendance - 38437
Game Time - 2:36
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Doug Eddings, First Base - Dana DeMuth, Second Base - Derryl Cousins, Third Base - Kerwin Danley