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Tampa Bay at Toronto

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Tampa Bay (73-61) «1611000009180
Toronto (60-73)000000202480

Rays' Price wins AL-leading 17th

CBSSports.com wire reports
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TORONTO -- Heading into a critical stretch of games with playoff implications, the Tampa Bay Rays are looking like contenders again.

David Price pitched a solid 6 2/3 innings and Ben Francisco homered in his first start for Tampa Bay as the Rays won their second straight to salvage a series split against the Toronto Blue Jays with a 9-4 win on Sunday.

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The win capped a tough 3-4 road trip for the Rays that saw them drop several games by one run only to fall further behind the division-leading New York Yankees in the AL East.

"I'm really proud of the way we've handled all of these moments," manager Joe Maddon said. "I know we lost some really harsh games and it's easy to go away after those loses and we didn't go away."

Carlos Pena also homered as the Rays won their second straight and third in nine games, pulling within 3 ½ games of the Yankees, who begin a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Monday.

"This is going to be a race to the end," outfielder B.J. Upton said. "We still got our work cut out for us but I think we're in a good position."

After the Yankees, the Rays will host the Texas Rangers before a visit to the Baltimore Orioles -- two teams both in the playoff hunt.

"We have time to do this," Maddon said. "I know we believe that we can do this."

Price (17-5) became the AL's top winner, with the Los Angeles Angels' Jered Weaver set to try for his 17th win later in the day.

Price gave up two runs, six hits and four walks while striking out five in a rebound game after a rare bad outing in Texas, where he was tagged by the Rangers for six runs and 10 hits.

The All-Star lefty is 9-1 in his last 14 starts overall and improved to 12-2 in his career against Toronto.

Price credited the Rays' offense for making it easy for him to get back on track.

"They've done a good job all year hitting for me, especially early in the game, it makes it a lot easier for me to go out there and try and pound the strike zone," he said. "The offense did a great job of putting up a lot of runs."

Blue Jays ace Ricky Romero (8-13) lost his 12th straight decision. He allowed a run in the first inning, then faced seven batters in the second and all of them reached base.

The Rays got to Romero with six runs in the big second, starting when Francisco -- acquired in a trade with Houston on Friday -- hit a solo shot over the left-field wall.

Romero walked Pena, Ryan Roberts doubled and Jose Molina hit an RBI single to shallow center field. Desmond Jennings singled to the exact same spot to make it 4-0.

Upton's routine fly ball became a single when right fielder Moises Sierra lost the ball in the sun and let it drop. With the bases loaded, Ben Zobrist hit a two-run single that ended Romero's day. An RBI grounder by Jeff Keppinger put the Rays ahead 7-0.

"Going through something like this, I would never wish upon anyone," Romero said. "It's tough. I've had advice from a lot of people, even from opponents, the guy who pitched against me today and their all-star third baseman, a lot of guys on other teams.

"[They say] `keep going, keep moving forward, you can't dwell on the past. It's going to turn around."'

Price had some trouble of his own in the second inning when he loaded the bases with walks to Adam Lind, Yunel Escobar and Mike McCoy, but the Jays failed to capitalize.

Pena sent the first pitch he saw in the third over the center-field wall for his 17th homer.

Tampa Bay did more damage in the fourth when Evan Longoria hit a ground-rule double, Keppinger singled and Francisco hit an RBI double.

Edwin Encarnacion hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh and Lind had an RBI single that finished Price.

Encarnacion hit his 37th homer, a two-run drive, in the ninth.

Notes

  • Rays manager Joe Maddon says RHP Jeff Niemann, who left in the fourth inning of Saturday's game, is still day-to-day with a "general shoulder malaise."
  • Tampa Bay will start RHP James Shields (12-8, 3.91 ERA) on Monday against Yankees LHP CC Sabathia (13-4, 3.40). Toronto opens a three-game homestand against the Baltimore Orioles on Labor Day.
 
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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Desmond Jennings goes 3 for 4  to help the Rays win their second straight and salvage a series split with the Blue Jays. (Getty Images)
Desmond Jennings goes 3 for 4 to help the Rays win their second straight and salvage a series split with the Blue Jays. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

D. Jennings
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
Toronto

E. Encarnacion
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
 
Tampa Bay Rays
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Desmond Jennings, LF4231000 .254
    Sam Fuld, CF2010001 .306
B.J. Upton, CF3110011 .249
    Elliot Johnson, 3B2000001 .246
Ben Zobrist, SS4022001 .268
    Rich Thompson, LF2010001 .105
Evan Longoria, 3B4121002 .287
    Reid Brignac, SS1000012 .111
Jeff Keppinger, DH3011001 .331
   a- Luke Scott, PH-DH2000010 .223
Ben Francisco, RF4122111 .250
Carlos Pena, 1B3221211 .191
Ryan Roberts, 2B5110015 .241
Jose Molina, C3111100 .206
    Chris Gimenez, C1010000 .203
Totals43918946  
a-struck out for Keppinger in the 6th
Batting
2B - Evan Longoria 2 (10, R. Romero, Jenkins), Ben Francisco (10, Jenkins), Ryan Roberts (16, R. Romero)
HR - Ben Francisco (3, R. Romero), Carlos Pena (17, Jenkins)
SH - B.J. Upton (4)
RBI - Desmond Jennings (40), Ben Zobrist 2 (56), Evan Longoria (35), Jeff Keppinger (31), Ben Francisco 2 (9), Carlos Pena (51), Jose Molina (23)
2-OUT RBI - Evan Longoria (17), Ben Francisco (4)
SB - Desmond Jennings (24, 3rd base off R. Romero/Torrealba)
Team LOB - 12
Tampa Bay Rays
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
David Price (W,17-5) 6.2622450 2.54
Burke Badenhop 1.1000010 2.95
Cesar Ramos 1222001 2.10
HBP - Rasmus (by David Price)
Pitches-Strikes - David Price 105-66, Burke Badenhop 10-8, Cesar Ramos 14-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - David Price 6-9, Burke Badenhop 3-0, Cesar Ramos 2-1
Batters Faced - David Price 31, Burke Badenhop 4, Cesar Ramos 5
Toronto Blue Jays
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Rajai Davis, LF4100120 .244
Colby Rasmus, CF4120000 .231
Edwin Encarnacion, DH4113011 .288
Adam Lind, 1B4011111 .235
Yunel Escobar, SS3010112 .253
Yorvit Torrealba, C4010002 .244
Moises Sierra, RF4000012 .259
Mike McCoy, 2B3010100 .184
Adeiny Hechavarria, 3B4110005 .213
Totals3448446  
Batting
2B - Mike McCoy (1, Price)
HR - Edwin Encarnacion (37, Ramos)
SF - Edwin Encarnacion (6)
RBI - Edwin Encarnacion 3 (95), Adam Lind (32)
2-OUT RBI - Edwin Encarnacion 2 (30), Adam Lind (18)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Escobar-Lind
Toronto Blue Jays
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Ricky Romero (L,8-13) 1877101 5.85
Chad Jenkins 5722131 4.24
Aaron Laffey 3300230 4.46
IBB - Pena by Chad Jenkins
WP - Aaron Laffey (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Ricky Romero 43-26, Chad Jenkins 57-42, Aaron Laffey 53-32
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ricky Romero 2-1, Chad Jenkins 6-6, Aaron Laffey 2-3
Batters Faced - Ricky Romero 12, Chad Jenkins 23, Aaron Laffey 13
Game Information
Attendance - 18568
Game Time - 2:58
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Jim Joyce, First Base - Lance Barrett, Second Base - James Hoye, Third Base - Jim Reynolds