Toronto at Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay
W: E. Jackson (11-8) L: J. Litsch (9-8)
S: D. Wheeler (10)
HR: TOR - None   TB - C. Floyd (10), W. Aybar (8)

Floyd, Aybar homer as Rays solidify first .500 season wire reports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays reached another milestone in their unexpected run toward the playoffs.

Edwin Jackson took a shutout into the eighth inning, Cliff Floyd and Willy Aybar each homered, and the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2 on Thursday night to guarantee they will finish no worse than .500 for the first time in franchise history.

"Hopefully getting past these barriers, mentally and numbers-wise, we can put that in the past and become the organization we're envisioned on becoming," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.

Tampa Bay, 81-51 and an AL-best 49-19 at home, took two of three from Toronto and is 11-0-1 in series play since the All-Star break. The Rays extended their lead in the AL East over Boston to 4½ games. The Red Sox lost 3-2 to the New York Yankees.

"It's just another day at the office," Floyd said. "Everyday, someone's doing something to win a ballgame."

Jackson (11-8) gave up one run and six hits over seven-plus innings in winning for the sixth time in his past seven starts. He departed after allowing Alex Rios' double to start the eighth.

"Every game we take now is a big one," Jackson said.

Rios scored on Adam Lind's infield single and Rod Barajas added a two-out RBI double later in the eighth, cutting the Toronto deficit to 3-2. Jose Bautista, mired in an 0-for-24 slide, struck out to end the inning.

Dan Wheeler pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 12 opportunities.

"I think you have to give those guys some credit over there," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "They've got a pretty good pitching staff that will shut you down."

Floyd put Tampa Bay up 2-0 with a first-inning sacrifice fly and a solo home run in the third.

Tampa Bay extended the lead when Aybar connected off Jesse Litsch (9-8) in the sixth. Aybar, who entered in an 1-for-16 slide, had three hits in four at-bats.

Litsch allowed three runs and 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. He saw a 13-inning scoreless streak end in the first.

"I made a couple of mistake pitches and they hit them over the fence," said Litsch, who was a Rays bat boy in 2002-03.

Toronto had at least one baserunner in each of the first six innings, but failed to score.

The announced attendance was 14,039, making it the sixth consecutive Rays home game with a turnout under 20,000. The crowd Wednesday was 12,678.

"I'm really proud of the fact that we've really raised the level of our intensity despite only having 12,000 people in the stands," Maddon said before the game. "They've been very professional about this. That's the part I really appreciate about it also. You'd like to see 36,000 every night, but for right now, the way our guys are going about our business, I'm very proud of them."


  • Toronto designated DH-OF Matt Stairs for assignment after the game and purchased the contract of OF Travis Snider from Triple-A Syracuse. Stairs expects to be traded to be traded to a "contender" by Saturday.
  • Rays closer Troy Percival (right knee) threw 39 pitches in batting practice and could be activated from the 15-day disabled list by early next week.
  • Blue Jays 3B Scott Rolen (left shoulder) is expected to be back in the starting lineup Friday.
  • Tampa Bay C Dioner Navarro (hamstrings) was out of the lineup for the second straight game and might return Saturday.
  • Rays 3B Evan Longoria (right wrist) has started a throwing program and hopes to return next week.
Copyright 2017 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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Cliff Floyd rounds the bases in the third inning after hitting his 10th homer. (AP)
Cliff Floyd rounds the bases in the third inning after hitting his 10th homer. (AP)

Players of the Game

R. Barajas
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
Tampa Bay

W. Aybar
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1

Related Video

Toronto Blue Jays
Joe Inglett, LF3000210 .300
Marco Scutaro, 2B-SS5010001 .264
Alex Rios, RF3110002 .291
Vernon Wells, CF4010003 .293
Adam Lind, DH4121010 .296
Lyle Overbay, 1B4010013 .274
Rod Barajas, C4021003 .259
    David Eckstein, PR-2B0000000 .274
Jose Bautista, 3B4000026 .233
John McDonald, SS3000002 .218
    Gregg Zaun, C1000010 .225
2B - Alex Rios (40, Jackson), Vernon Wells (16, Jackson), Rod Barajas (20, Balfour)
RBI - Adam Lind (37), Rod Barajas (45)
2-OUT RBI - Rod Barajas (14)
CS - Joe Inglett (2, 2nd base by Jackson/Riggans)
Team LOB - 9
Toronto Blue Jays
Jesse Litsch (L,9-8) 6.21033022 4.01
Brian Tallet 0.1000110 2.93
Jason Frasor 1000100 3.98
Pitches-Strikes - Jesse Litsch 104-72, Brian Tallet 13-6, Jason Frasor 13-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jesse Litsch 7-10, Jason Frasor 3-0
Batters Faced - Jesse Litsch 29, Brian Tallet 2, Jason Frasor 4
Tampa Bay Rays
Akinori Iwamura, 2B4120001 .277
B.J. Upton, CF4020001 .267
Carlos Pena, 1B3000122 .244
Cliff Floyd, DH2112000 .259
   a- Rocco Baldelli, PH-DH1000012 .258
Willy Aybar, 3B4131000 .247
Eric Hinske, LF3000003 .255
    Justin Ruggiano, LF1000000 .224
Gabe Gross, RF3010100 .233
Shawn Riggans, C4010002 .220
Jason Bartlett, SS3000001 .269
a-struck out for Floyd in the 7th
2B - Akinori Iwamura 2 (26, Litsch, Litsch)
3B - Gabe Gross (3, Litsch)
HR - Cliff Floyd (10, Litsch), Willy Aybar (8, Litsch)
SF - Cliff Floyd (3)
RBI - Cliff Floyd 2 (27), Willy Aybar (21)
2-OUT RBI - Cliff Floyd (15)
SB - B.J. Upton (38, 2nd base off Litsch/Barajas)
PK - B.J. Upton (1, Litsch)
Team LOB - 8
E - Akinori Iwamura (5, Misplayed grounder)
Tampa Bay Rays
Edwin Jackson (W,11-8) 7611220 3.81
Chad Bradford (H,20) 0.1111000 2.27
Trever Miller (H,9) 0.1000010 4.32
Grant Balfour (H,12) 0.1100010 1.44
Dan Wheeler (S,10) 1000020 2.48
HBP - Rios (by Edwin Jackson)
Pitches-Strikes - Edwin Jackson 106-70, Chad Bradford 5-5, Trever Miller 4-3, Grant Balfour 12-8, Dan Wheeler 12-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Edwin Jackson 4-15, Chad Bradford 1-0
Batters Faced - Edwin Jackson 30, Chad Bradford 2, Trever Miller 1, Grant Balfour 2, Dan Wheeler 3
Game Information
Attendance - 14039
Game Time - 2:51
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Bruce Dreckman, First Base - Brian Gorman, Second Base - Gerry Davis, Third Base - Todd Tichenor