ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Wade Davis pitched the game that launched the Rays on their run toward the postseason, a Sept. 9 complete game that sparked a sweep of the Red Sox. Then he pitched two on the last road trip that cost them dearly, losing to the Orioles and Yankees.
Sunday, Davis stepped up again with eight solid innings, allowing a season-low three hits and two walks while striking out six, in the critical 5-2 win over Toronto.
"That was huge," C Kelly Shoppach said. "I say this all the time when he has one of these outings — that's the kind of guy that we expect him to be."
Davis said the key wasn't making a lot of changes, just doing what he normally does better. "Staying under control, just staying on the even keel, not overthinking anything, not overdoing anything," he said. "And I was able to do that. Same feeling today, same stuff — better execution."
It helped that the Rays got him an early lead. And that he was pitching at the Trop, where he is 3-0, 2.85 over his past seven starts and the Rays have won them all.
PITCHING IN: RHP Kyle Farnsworth felt good and was available to pitch again Sunday, the day after his first appearance in two weeks due to a bout of elbow tenderness. But manager Joe Maddon said he "did not want to push it." … RHP Joel Peralta got the call for the ninth and delivered a 1-2-3 inning, the 16th of his past 17 appearances to be scoreless with a 0.50 ERA. Also, he has allowed a majors-low .073 average (5-for-68) to first batters. … If there is a next start, Maddon said RHP Jeff Niemann — who was pulled after one uncomfortable inning on Saturday — should be available to make it. "We talked afterward, I think he's going to be fine," Maddon said.
THE DO-RUN: 2B Ben Zobrist figured his first-inning laser line drive was going over RF Jose Bautista's head, so he'd run hard — "on my horse" — and see where it led. When he got around to seeing third-base coach Tom Foley, he realized he was about to complete his first inside-the-park home run at any level.
"When I saw Foley waving me in, I was like, 'All right, let's go, here we go now,' " Zobrist said. "It was a lot of fun. I'd never done that before, so it was a good time."
It was the Rays' second inside-the-parker this season (Evan Longoria, June 12), seventh at the Trop and 10th in franchise history.
SHOPP TALK: Shoppach had his first three-hit game — including a homer off RHP Jesse Litsch — since June 24, 2010, and the first by a Rays catcher since John Jaso on Aug. 25, 2010.
SHIELDS UP: RHP James Shields has worked a career-high 2402/3 innings over 32 games in his remarkable bounceback season, and he's hoping it extends beyond tonight's meeting with the Yankees. "I'm not planning on it being my last start of the year," Shields said. "My body feels really good right now. I feel like can throw about 50 more innings, so I'm good to go."
MISCELLANY: CF B.J. Upton has hit .368 with five homers, 12 RBIs and a .461 on-base percentage in 20 games since moving to the No. 2 spot. … Longoria hit his 18th homer in 69 games since the All-Star break, second most in the AL. … The Rays finished 12-6 against the Jays, their fourth straight season of 10-plus wins, the first time they've done that against one team. … The Rays have gotten wins from five rookie pitchers in September.