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Rays defeat Blue Jays for just 4th win since All-Star break

The offense manages just six hits, but strong pitching limits Toronto to only three baserunners over the final five innings.
The Rays' David Peralta singled home the game-winning run in the sixth inning Wednesday against the Blue Jays.
The Rays' David Peralta singled home the game-winning run in the sixth inning Wednesday against the Blue Jays. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Aug. 3|Updated Aug. 3

ST. PETERSBURG — Despite recent hitting struggles that reappeared Wednesday, the Rays had a chance to take the lead in the sixth inning against the Blue Jays. All David Peralta needed to do was maneuver the ball through an infield pulled up to the Tropicana Field turf.

He fouled off a pair of fastballs. Then, a slider. On the seventh pitch, Peralta — acquired from the Diamondbacks four days ago — laced a single up the middle, scoring fellow newcomer Jose Siri and putting the Rays ahead in an eventual 3-2 win.

“(Blue Jays reliever Adam Cimber) made a mistake, and that’s when you have to be ready …” Peralta said. “So I made him pay.”

Pitching again carried the Rays (55-49) — as a progression of Jalen Beeks, Ryan Yarbrough, Ryan Thompson, Pete Fairbanks and Jason Adam limited the Blue Jays (58-46) to four hits — and helped secure the team’s fourth win in 12 games since the All-Star break.

“That’s the type of at-bat that you kind of are looking forward to seeing from David the rest of the way,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Just a very professional at-bat.”

Postgame, Peralta joked about the pressure he thought about. The Rays lost his first game with the team. They lost the second one, too. Peralta wanted to celebrate, to see what the environment was like after a win, but that hadn’t happened yet.

“And I’m like, ‘Come on, David. You’ve got to do something,’” Peralta said.

The deciding run in the sixth began with Siri’s first hit in two games with the Rays. He pointed toward the dugout as his grounder snuck under Matt Chapman’s glove and into left field. Two pitches later, he stole second. That positioned him to score when Peralta’s base hit landed in the outfield grass.

Still, Tampa Bay failed to record more than six hits for the fourth time in its last six games. It failed to top three runs for the ninth time in 11. And for the second day in a row, the Blue Jays grabbed a first-inning lead. Jalen Beeks, serving as the opener for the sixth time this season, needed 30 pitches to navigate the frame.

Toronto left-hander Yusei Kikuchi struck out eight Tampa Bay hitters when he last pitched against them on June 30, and through two innings Wednesday he already had four. But a hit-by-pitch, single and walk loaded the bases in the third. A sacrifice fly from Isaac Paredes then plated the Rays’ first run. Cash said the Rays did a good job forcing Kikuchi into a high pitch count.

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Yarbrough, who relieved Beeks in the second, retired the first seven batters he faced. Seventeen of his first 26 pitches dropped in for strikes. Then Hernandez connected with a 77 mph changeup in the fourth, sending it over the leftfield fence and putting Toronto ahead again.

But the Rays evened the score during their next round of at-bats.

Yarbrough, Thompson, Fairbanks and Adam allowed just one hit and three batters to reach base after Hernandez’s homer. Yarbrough has surrendered just two runs in his last two appearances across 10 innings, while Thompson hasn’t allowed a run since June 20 (15 outings). It’s one of the best stretches of his career, he said.

That all allowed the lead created by the newest Rays — Peralta and his timely bat, Siri and his well-timed aggressiveness — to remain intact.

“Since I can run a little bit and I’m pretty fast, if (Peralta) hits the ball, I’m ready to go first to third, I’m ready to score, whatever it is,” Siri said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “He’s a tremendous hitter.”

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