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Zobrist's two-run homer ends Rays' skid



Zobrist ST. PETERSBURG (AP) — Ben Zobrist hit a two-run homer and James Shields allowed one run over seven innings to help the Tampa Bay Rays snap a seven-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.

Zobrist hit his fourth homer of the season off A.J. Burnett (10-9) to give the Rays a 2-1 lead in the seventh. The two-out shot came after third base umpire Mike Everitt ruled Eric Hinske checked his swing on a 3-2 pitch to draw a walk.

Shields (8-6) gave up four hits, two walks and had four strikeouts for Tampa Bay, which started Friday a half-game behind AL East-leading Boston.

Grant Balfour got the final four outs for his fourth save.

Six of Tampa Bay's losses during the skid came on the road. Friday's victory improved the Rays' home record to 37-14.

Burnett also went seven innings, giving up two runs and five hits. He had won his two previous starts.
Toronto has lost six of seven games against Tampa Bay this season.

Adam Lind put the Blue Jays ahead 1-0 on a solo homer in the third. He has four homers and 17 RBIs in 18 games since being recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on June 21.

Tampa Bay went 5-for-53 with runners in scoring position over the previous seven games and failed to convert on five more chances during the first two innings. They didn't have any chances with runners on after that.

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg talked with his team before batting practice. Tampa Bay finished in last place nine times in its first 10 years.

"We have a chance for an incredible two months," Sternberg said.

(Pictured: Dioner Navarro, left, and Ben Zobrist, right. Times photo -- Dirk Shadd. Click to enlarge.)

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:37am]


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