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Tampa Bay Rays overcome another controversial call, rally to beat Blue Jays again

Carl Crawford, right, is greeted by Reid Brignac and B.J. Upton after his grand slam in the ninth.

Associated Press

Carl Crawford, right, is greeted by Reid Brignac and B.J. Upton after his grand slam in the ninth.

TORONTO — The first time Sean Rodriguez scored the Rays' second run to tie Wednesday's game, he couldn't believe what happened next, as another controversial call by umpire Angel Hernandez led to him being called out instead.

The next time Rodriguez scored their second run to tie the game three innings later, he wasn't surprised a bit at what happened next, as the Rays completed another dramatic comeback and escaped Toronto with a 7-3 victory.

"The ninth inning," Rodriguez said, "was a much better feeling."

For the Rays, it was a second straight living example of the benefits of their no-quit attitude.

"That's what we do," Dioner Navarro said.

"That's how we play," Carl Crawford said.

And even with seemingly conspiring forces giving them reason to give up, they insist they wouldn't have it, or do it, any other way.

"That's not in us," Rodriguez said. "It's not programmed in anybody's mind on this team."

They pulled their hockey sweaters back on for the postgame flight to Texas, and they seemed a bit more appropriate given the ferocity the Rays showed in the field and on the basepaths, bodies flying into walls and across bases. "It's an attitude," manager Joe Maddon said.

Today in Fort Worth they'll have their first day off after playing 20 consecutive days (going 12-8), and with a majors-best 36-18 record at the one-third mark of the season, and on a pace for 108 wins, they'll enjoy it.

"To win in this fashion two nights in a row definitely does something for your confidence," Maddon said.

The way they won was impressive, rallying for six in the ninth. Rodriguez — who got the big hit in Tuesday's comeback — started this rally with a single. A Ben Zobrist single, then a fierce slide on John Jaso's grounder, left the Rays with men on first and third and one out.

With Maddon allowing Navarro to walk to the plate (with Carlos Peña available as a pinch-hitter), it could only mean one thing: time for their go-to play, the safety squeeze.

The Jays had to figure it was coming — "They knew," Maddon acknowledged — but they couldn't do anything about it, even as Navarro slapped it too hard toward first, Rodriguez racing home with the tying run.

They didn't stop there, Reid Brignac doubling in Jaso with the go-ahead run and Crawford punctuating the night with his third career grand slam (all off lefty relievers).

"A good win for us," Crawford said.

The way they could have lost the game was exasperating.

Hernandez, who was in the middle of Tuesday's no-timeout controversy, made a rare and, based on TV replays, wrong call, ruling after the Jays appealed that Rodriguez missed third base.

And, Hernandez apparently was sure enough that he didn't want to talk about it. "I have no comment," he told a pool reporter. "The guy missed the bag." Crew chief Joe West agreed.

Rodriguez felt sure he touched the base — "blatantly" — and said replays made it obvious he hit the inside front corner of the base with the back of his left foot.

"I just told myself, 'Don't let it get to you,' " he said. "Ninth inning came, I led off and I was like, 'Let's try to do it again.' And I was fortunate I got to score the tying run again."

Amid the controversy and the comeback, the Rays had another night of great defense (Evan Longoria starting and Rodriguez turning two double plays, Crawford and B.J. Upton making leaping catches at the wall) and saw David Price battle through eight innings for his American League-leading eighth win.

"That was a good game for us to win," Price said. "We needed that."

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

Rays 7

Blue Jays 3

Tampa Bay Rays overcome another controversial call, rally to beat Blue Jays again 06/02/10 [Last modified: Thursday, June 3, 2010 6:17am]
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