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Rays 5, Blue Jays 4

Hinske haunts old team, Sonnanstine wins fourth straight for Rays

TORONTO — The Rays needed something Tuesday, and they got plenty.

Another home run from Eric Hinske, the ex-Jay who was booed lustily. A pair of run-scoring hits from suddenly surging Akinori Iwamura. Six good-enough innings from Andy Sonnanstine. More dazzling defense. Splendid relief from Dan Wheeler and Troy Percival.

And a win they badly needed, 5-4 over Toronto, putting the lost weekend in Boston behind them and moving them back to two games over .500 at 17-15, the fourth-best record in the AL.

"It was tough in Boston for us," Hinske said. "Losing three in a row, you don't want to get to that fourth game and lose it. First game of the series, it's a big win for us, a huge win for us."

Sonnanstine had to work hard to earn another piece of team history, battling through six innings to pick up his fifth win, quicker in a season (game 32) than any previous Ray (Scott Kazmir in game 35 in 2006).

Sonnanstine, 5-1, 4.63 overall, has won four straight and 10 since Aug. 15, more than all but two other major-leaguers (Arizona's Brandon Webb, the Yankees' Chien-Ming Wang).

He allowed a career-high-matching 10 hits but limited the damage to four runs with some impressive escape acts, none more so than in the sixth.

The Jays crept to within 5-4 on Lyle Overbay's RBI double, which hit the top of the wall but, in a rare break for the Rays, came back into play. A flyout and a single put the tying run at third, but Sonnanstine got Marco Scutaro, Toronto's third shortstop after injuries to David Eckstein (hip) and John MacDonald (ankle), to ground into a double play.

"You just try to keep it under control as much as possible," Sonnanstine said. "A couple innings I threw a couple key pitches in key situations. … That was the biggest one for me."

"He totally battled," manager Joe Maddon said. "That's typical Sonnanstine right there. A little bit of a bending but there was no breaking."

Hinske isn't sure what he did to draw such ire from the Toronto fans except never quite match his 2002 AL Rookie of the Year performance during his next four seasons in Toronto. He was traded to Boston in August 2006, hasn't said anything bad about anybody but has been hated since.

"The only thing that makes them keep quiet is if you get a hit, so I keep trying to get hits," he said, with a 7-for-15 showing and two homers in four games against Toronto.

Just scoring runs against the Jays was something, given a Toronto staff that had compiled a stunning 1.02 ERA over its previous nine games, allowing only 12 runs, matching the fewest by any team in the past five years.

Jays starter A.J. Burnett struck out five of the first six, but the Rays got three off him in the third, matching the most Toronto had allowed in any game during their streak, then two more.

Wheeler breezed through the seventh and eighth, and Percival had another 1-2-3 ninth (his ninth) to log his seventh save (331st overall, 10th all time) and extend his scoreless streak to 11 innings.

"We played well,'' Maddon said, "and that's why we won."

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

Hinske haunts old team, Sonnanstine wins fourth straight for Rays 05/06/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 7, 2008 5:05pm]
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