Rays outhit, outpitch Blue Jays for 7th straight win
Garza continues mastery of Toronto; Upton, Crawford, Aybar go deep
Dominant at the plate, in the field and on the mound, the Tampa Bay Rays are showing Toronto baseball fans this week why they have been the best team in the American League over the past two months.
Starting pitcher Matt Garza delivered his usual sterling performance against the Blue Jays, limiting the home side to a single run over seven innings in a 4-1 victory on Tuesday night.
He was backed by an offence that homered three times off Toronto starter Scott Richmond — Nos. 13, 14 and 15 of the season against the right-hander — giving the Rays 10 home runs during their seven-game winning streak.
And for good measure, former Blue Jays outfielder Gabe Gross threw out Toronto designated hitter Adam Lind trying to stretch a single into a double in the bottom of the sixth inning with Tampa Bay leading 3-1.
Garza keyed the Rays' 36th win in 57 starts since April 30, scattering seven hits to improve his season record to 6-5.
"Garza struggled a little bit with command," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "But overall, his stuff is so good he was able to fight through some moments."
He is 4-3 in seven career starts against Toronto despite allowing only 10 earned runs in 47 2/3 innings. Garza entered Tuesday's contest with a 1-2 record and a 0.79 earned-run average in three career starts at Rogers Centre.
Blue Jays drop 4th in a row
On this night, Toronto managed just one extra-base hit off the Tampa Bay right-hander — a double by second baseman Aaron Hill — and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position en route to a fourth straight loss.
After the game, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said he is considering changes to his lineup for Wednesday's series finale.
"I'll have to sleep on it," Gaston said. "Some of the guys are hitting but the guys that we need to drive in runs are not swinging the bats at all."
Garza pitched out of trouble in the second, fourth and fifth innings and watched the Rays' bullpen do the same in the eighth with a 4-1 lead.
After Garza ended his night with a leadoff walk to Hill, Vernon Wells singled off reliever Chad Bradford. Scott Rolen then flied out before southpaw Randy Choate took over from Bradford with left-handed hitters Lind and Lyle Overbay due up. He struck out Lind on five pitches and got Overbay to fly out to left field.
The Tampa Bay bullpen kept Toronto off the board the final two innings, with J.P. Howell recording the final three outs for his sixth save.
One of the few bright spots for the Blue Jays was third baseman Rolen, who extended his career-high hitting string to 18 games with a leadoff single in the second inning, a hit that led to Toronto's lone run.
Upton belts 1st pitch over fence
B.J. Upton set the tone for the Rays' offence when he took Richmond's first pitch of the game over the fence in left.
"I was trying to get it down in the zone for a strike and he jumped on it. I paid for it," said Richmond. "Sometimes they look at it, sometimes they swing."
Crawford, who went deep off Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay on Monday, and Willy Aybar followed suit with solo homers in the third and sixth innings against Richmond, who was seeking a third consecutive win.
The North Vancouver, B.C., native gave up five walks as the Rays hit 41 homers in June, a club record for one month.
"I'll tell you what, [Richmond] pitched a good game," Gaston said. "He kept us in the game, even after [Upton's home run] on the first pitch of the game. He battled his butt off and kept us right in the game. That's all you can ask him to do."
Tampa Bay improved to 44-35 and has a three-game lead over the fourth-place Blue Jays (41-38) in the AL East Division standings.
Toronto lefty Ricky Romero, who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning on Friday against Philadelphia, will try to help his team salvage a win in the three-game series when he opposes James Shields on Wednesday at 1:07 p.m. ET.
With files from The Canadian Press