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Four-run rally against Jays ace Halladay keeps Rays perfect at Disney

LAKE BUENA VISTA — It didn't look like there was going to be a Disney ending this time, not with the Rays down three runs in the sixth inning to Toronto ace Roy Halladay and looking meek in doing so.

But these Rays insist they follow a different script, and they came up with another winner Wednesday, rallying to beat the Jays 5-3 and keep their Disney record perfect at 5-0.

"It's tough to get him when he has a three-run lead, so that's a huge win for us to come back like that," said Eric Hinske, the former Jay, who drove in the go-ahead run in a four-run sixth inning. "I've seen it time in and time out where he gets that lead and he just goes into cruise control and just shuts a team down."

The Rays, now 10-11 and out of last place in the AL East, came back because they kept their heads up, refusing to give in as Halladay pounded them with what manager Joe Maddon calls a "bowling ball" sinker.

Plus, they got another good-enough start from Jason Hammel, who has his first career two-game winning streak, and more excellent relief work, with Dan Wheeler (1.50 ERA) working two innings and Troy Percival (one hit and no runs through seven games) the third for his 327th career save, putting him 11th on the all-time list. Attendance was 8,989, a slight increase from Tuesday but the fourth time in five games over two seasons they've failed to reach the 9,500 capacity of Champion Stadium.

Hinske had the hit that won the game, a 2-and-2 single to right that scored B.J. Upton.

But rookie Evan Longoria had the hit of the game, taking a 1-and-0 pitch to rightfield for the tying two-run single, even more impressive because he had grounded to third his first two times up.

"For a young guy to make that kind of adjustment on a pitcher like that speaks volumes about him," Hinske said. "That was awesome to stay inside that pitch."

"A really good piece of hitting on his part," Maddon said.

The Jays were impressed, too. "That Longoria kid is some kind of hitter," manager John Gibbons said. "He doesn't try to do too much. He'll take his singles to right, which is the sign of an awful good one."

Longoria, a 22-year-old in his 11th big-league game, had planned to hit the ball up the middle against the former Cy Young Award winner but found it easier to plot than do the first two times.

"I was thinking about doing something different than I did in my first two at-bats," he said. "He just left a ball over the plate and I finally got a pitch I could handle."

Halladay, who'd allowed only three soft singles in the first five innings, wasn't sure what changed in the sixth as the Rays rapped five hits, starting at the bottom of the order with a Dioner Navarro double and a Jason Bartlett single and including a Carl Crawford RBI single and an Upton walk.

"It started off with some ground balls that got into holes and I didn't make pitches with guys on. Especially with Longoria, I tried to get the ball in and I just didn't get it in," Halladay said. "Regardless of how much time he's got, you can't make mistakes or he's going to make you pay for it."

Not that Longoria knows any better. "We only know one thing," he said. "Keep hitting until the end."

Marc Topkin can be reached at
topkin@sptimes.com.

Four-run rally against Jays ace Halladay keeps Rays perfect at Disney 04/23/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 25, 2008 12:39pm]
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