|Tampa Bay (45-39) «||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||3||4||1|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A struggling Pat Burrell hopes he's on the verge of turning his season around.
Burrell also thinks the walk-off shot into the left-centerfield stands may be exactly what was needed to set up a productive second half of the season.
"We got a long way to go, and I haven't been performing. It's that simple," said Burrell, who signed a $16 million, two-year contract with Tampa Bay in January after spending nine years with the Philadelphia Phillies.
"As you go along in the season, you try to build on things," added Burrell, who missed 29 games in May and June with a neck strain and is hitting .222 with four homers and 25 RBI. "I'm hoping this is one of those times."
The AL champions stopped a skid that included three losses to rookie pitchers, but hardly pulled out of an offensive funk -- managing just two hits in six innings against Marc Rzepczynski in the 23-year-old lefty's major league debut.
The Rays finished with four hits overall, two after the fourth inning, when Rzepczynski walked three, including Gabe Kapler with the bases loaded, to fall behind 1-0.
"He pitched a lot better I think than all of us felt he was going to pitch," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "He will certainly get another chance."
Toronto's Scott Rolen tied it in the eighth with a run-scoring single that extended his career-best hitting streak to 24 games.
Burrell, who is 10 for 64 in 21 games since coming off the disabled list on June 11, hit his fourth homer of the season, connecting off Brandon League (1-4) with two outs. Dan Wheeler (3-1) pitched two scoreless innings to get the win for the Rays, who were outscored 25-7 during their losing streak.
Rzepczynski, 9-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 16 starts for Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Las Vegas, walked four and struck out seven in six innings. Shawn Camp was sharp in relief, too, working three scoreless innings before being replaced by League.
"It's unfortunate we couldn't pull it out," Rzepczynski said.
The Rays loaded the bases in the fourth on Ben Zobrist's single and two walks. Kapler fell behind Rzepcznski in the count 0-2 before drawing four straight balls to force in the first run of the game.
After allowing four hits over the first three innings, Tampa Bay starter James Shields seemed to get stronger as the night progressed.
The Rays right-hander set the Blue Jays down in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth and had retired 11 in a row when Vernon Wells singled off the back of his leg in the seventh for his second infield hit of the night.
Shields, who gave up one run and seven hits in seven-plus innings, worked out of jams with runners in scoring position in the second, third and seventh innings before Toronto finally broke through in the eighth.
Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill singled to end Shields' night. Rolen's single off Chad Bradford tied the game, and the Blue Jays threatened to take the lead when Wells singled to center off Howell with two outs.
But B.J. Upton's throw to the plate cut down Hill trying to score from second base to end the inning.
"Perfect throw," Hill said. "What can you do? You tip your hat."
|Pat Burrell busts out of a 4-for-34 slump with a two-run shot that ends the game in the 11th. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Marco Scutaro, SS||5||1||2||0||0||0||1||.282|
|Aaron Hill, 2B||5||0||2||0||0||0||1||.296|
|Adam Lind, DH||5||0||1||0||0||1||3||.308|
|Scott Rolen, 3B||5||0||1||1||0||0||3||.325|
|Lyle Overbay, 1B||5||0||0||0||0||1||2||.254|
|Vernon Wells, CF||5||0||3||0||0||0||2||.262|
|Alex Rios, RF||5||0||0||0||0||1||2||.260|
|Dave Dellucci, LF||2||0||0||0||1||2||1||.208|
|a- Jose Bautista, PH-LF||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.262|
|Rod Barajas, C||4||0||0||0||0||0||3||.263|
|a-singled for Dellucci in the 9th|
|2B - Adam Lind (26, Shields)|
|RBI - Scott Rolen (33)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Brandon League (L,1-4)||1.2||2||2||2||1||1||1||5.31|
|WP - Marc Rzepczynski (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Marc Rzepczynski 105-62, Shawn Camp 29-18, Brandon League 31-16|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Marc Rzepczynski 7-4, Shawn Camp 2-6, Brandon League 2-2|
|Batters Faced - Marc Rzepczynski 24, Shawn Camp 10, Brandon League 8|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|B.J. Upton, CF||5||0||0||0||0||3||2||.240|
|Carl Crawford, LF||5||0||0||0||0||1||2||.313|
|Evan Longoria, 3B||5||0||0||0||0||1||0||.285|
|Carlos Pena, 1B||4||1||0||0||1||2||0||.228|
|Ben Zobrist, 2B||3||1||1||0||2||1||0||.282|
|Pat Burrell, DH||4||1||1||2||1||0||3||.222|
|Jason Bartlett, SS||3||0||0||0||1||1||2||.354|
|Gabe Kapler, RF||1||0||0||1||1||0||0||.245|
|a- Gabe Gross, PH-RF||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||.278|
|Dioner Navarro, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||4||.214|
|a-flied out for Kapler in the 7th|
|2B - Dioner Navarro (11, Rzepczynski)|
|HR - Pat Burrell (4, League)|
|RBI - Pat Burrell 2 (25), Gabe Kapler (20)|
|2-OUT RBI - Pat Burrell 2 (13), Gabe Kapler (5)|
|SB - Ben Zobrist (9, 2nd base off League/Barajas)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Outfield Assists - B.J. Upton 1|
|E - James Shields (1, Throwing)|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Randy Choate (H,3)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1.26|
|Chad Bradford (BS,1)||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||3.86|
|Dan Wheeler (W,3-1)||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||3.23|
|Pitches-Strikes - James Shields 105-72, Randy Choate 1-1, Chad Bradford 2-2, J.P. Howell 21-18, Dan Wheeler 21-14|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James Shields 9-8, J.P. Howell 1-2, Dan Wheeler 1-5|
|Batters Faced - James Shields 29, Randy Choate 1, Chad Bradford 1, J.P. Howell 6, Dan Wheeler 6|
|Attendance - 15244|
|Game Time - 3:15|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - James Hoye, First Base - Bill Welke, Second Base - Tim Welke, Third Base - Jim Reynolds|