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Tampa Bay Rays hang on to beat Toronto Blue Jays 6-4, end two-game skid

TORONTO — The smiles in the Rays clubhouse were as much for relief as joy given the moments of concern they went through Saturday afternoon.

A near midair collision between diving outfielders Sam Fuld and B.J. Upton left both a bit shaken and manager Joe Maddon shaking his head at what could have been significant injuries. David Price was visibly frustrated and disappointed when he was removed after allowing three hits to start the ninth, unable to finish what he started. Closer Kyle Farnsworth caused considerable concern when he went down in the ninth with what looked briefly to be a serious knee injury. And there was the slight problem posed by Toronto's Jose Bautista coming to the plate, as he clubbed two more home runs and now has been up nine times without making an out.

But by the end, the Rays had reason to relax, rebounding from Friday's crushing 11-inning walkoff loss with a hard-fought 6-4 win over the Blue Jays.

"Welcome to the American League East, ladies and gentlemen," Maddon said. "I anticipate games like this on a nightly basis. You're always looking for the laugher; you're always looking to get away with something. You're not. You're not. Every game we play in our division this year is going to resemble that game you saw the last two days."

The Rays (10-11), for a while anyway, appeared headed for a relatively uneventful win.

Price was pitching extremely well to the eight mortals in the Toronto lineup, allowing only a pair of solo blasts to Bautista, the briefly onetime Ray who led the majors with 54 homers last season. "Bautista's obviously working off another stratosphere, solar system, whatever," Maddon said. "This guy's just on a different planet right now as a hitter."

Johnny Damon gave the Rays their first lead with a two-run homer in the first, and after Damon's seven-pitch at-bat that ended in a strikeout but finished starter Brandon Morrow's day at 93 pitches in the sixth (which Maddon considered the key to the game), Ben Zobrist put them back ahead with a three-run homer.

They extended the lead to 6-2 in the seventh, and then things got interesting.

The Jays had two on with two outs when Travis Snider lined a ball to left-center. Fuld and Upton took off, neither seeing the other, as Fuld took the inside track with his headfirst dive to make the catch and Upton, out of reaction more than thought, diving behind him.

"All of a sudden you see the Flying Wallenda act," Maddon said. "It was very scary, man."

A similar predicament ended less dramatically in the eighth, with Sean Rodriguez, playing third in place of the benched Felipe Lopez, starting and Zobrist turning an inning-ending double play.

Price had his eyes on a complete game, having thrown only 95 pitches going into the ninth. But a single to Bautista, an RBI double by Adam Lind and a single by Jose Molina changed the look quickly. Maddon decided to make the change, and Price left without acknowledging him and barely his teammates waiting in the dugout.

"I was disappointed in myself," Price said. "He lets me go out there to try and finish the ninth, I've got to be able to do it. It's unfortunate. You've got to go out there in that ninth inning and shut the door."

Farnsworth allowed a single to make it 6-4 then went down awkwardly trying to field a bunt. He stayed in after a few moments pause then finished the job with two groundouts for his fifth save.

"That's what's fun about playing the game," Farnsworth said. "You never know what's going to happen."

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

Rays 6

Blue Jays 4

Tampa Bay Rays hang on to beat Toronto Blue Jays 6-4, end two-game skid 04/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 23, 2011 9:29pm]
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