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Tampa Bay Rays beat Toronto Blue Jays 7-1

TORONTO — Monday’s game certainly could have seemed lost to the Rays when starter Jeff Niemann was forced out after one inning, and the first reliever to replace him, Cesar Ramos, quickly gave up a run to put them behind.

But the Rays salvaged some good out of an otherwise bad night with an impressive comeback — keyed by an impressive bullpen effort and a six-run outburst in a single inning — to beat the Blue Jays 7-1.

“To win a game like that is unusual,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I was really impressed with our effort tonight. I thought it was excellent.”

The victory gave the Rays back-to-back wins for the first time in more than a week, improved their overall record to 22-14 and, with the Orioles’ loss, moved them back into a tie for first place in the American League East.

“Sometimes you can get down, get in a situation like that and never really recover, but this team has never shown that kind of character,” Ben Zobrist said. “I think our character is a persevering kind of ability to just shrug off what possibly just happened and do the best we can to put together the best game we can from that point on.”

Ramos settled down to work three innings and get his first major-league win, and the accompanying customary beer shower.

“Very cold,” he said. “But it was good to get that first one.”

He was followed by Wade Davis, who worked two hitless innings, and J.P. Howell, Burke Badenhop and Jake McGee, who worked an inning each. “

It was unbelievable,” Ramos said. “Everyone was lights out.”

The offense was entertaining. After being held to no hits for four innings by Jays starter Brandon Morrow, the Rays exploded for six runs — on four hits, a costly error and a key wild pitch — in the fifth.

“It was like you get that first hit and you forget it all,” Zobrist said.

Will Rhymes got the first one, a leadoff double slapped down the leftfield line. An out later red-hot, yes, red-hot Elliot Johnson, who is 9-for-18 during a career-high six-game hitting streak, delivered an RBI single to tie it. “How about Elliot?” Maddon said.

But then it really started a couple of batters later, after Zobrist reached on a fielder’s choice and B.J. Upton walked, when Matt Joyce busted it down the first-base line with two outs and slid headfirst to the bag to reach safely as Jays first baseman Adam Lind misplayed his grounder. Zobrist did the hustle, too, racing home from second on the play to give the Rays a 2-1 lead.

The Rays took full advantage of the extended inning, first with some more help from the Jays as Carlos Peña struck out on a pitch that got away from catcher J.P. Arencibia and made it to first. Then with a two-run single by Luke Scott, extending his team RBI lead to 24. And then a two-run double by Rodriguez, making it 6-1.

Zobrist added a solo homer, his second in two games, in the ninth.

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

Rays 7

Blue Jays 1

Tampa Bay Rays beat Toronto Blue Jays 7-1 05/14/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 7:22am]

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