Not even Jose Bautista’s league-leading 45th and 46th home runs were enough for the Toronto Blue Jays to overcome the wild card leading Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night at the Rogers Centre.
In a game that featured the long ball from both sides, Tampa Bay benefited from a Yunel Escobar throwing error in the ninth to edge the Jays 9-8.
Bautista’s second blast of the game in the seventh inning off Rays reliever Joaquin Benoit tied the game for the moment, and matched Jose Canseco for second on the single-season Jays homer list, and is now one shy off George Bell’s 47, set in 1987.
Benoit (1-2) was creditied with the win, while Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 42nd save.
Jays starter Brett Cecil spotted the Rays seven runs in his two innings of work, but Toronto (72-69) was able to erase an 8-1 deficit via the long ball.
Error give Rays win
In the ninth, with runners on first and second, Sean Rodriguez grounded to Lyle Overbay at first who threw the ball to Escobar at second who promptly sailed one by reliever Kevin Gregg who was covering first.
That would have ended the inning, but instead Evan Longoria scored from second.
It was a big win for the Rays (85-55), who had lost four of five on their current nine game road trip entering the trio with the Jays at Rogers Centre. Tampa trails the Yankees by two games for first in the American League East, with New York in action later tonight.
Jays homer-happy offence leads comeback
Adam Lind and John Buck also homered for the Jays, while B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist hit homers for Tampa Bay.
Toronto has hit 222 round trippers, closing in on the team record of 244 set in 2000.
Down by seven in the fourth inning, Lind kicked off the comeback with a two-run homer to centre on an 0-2 fastball from starter James Shields.
An inning later, it was Bautista who gave the fans hope, depositing a Shields offering into the stands for a two-run homer, cutting the lead to 8-5.
Leading off the seventh, Buck set the stage for the rally, cranking a solo home run to right-centre field off reliever Randy Choate.
Josh Roenicke, Casey Janssen, Jesse Carlson, Jason Frasor and Shawn Camp only allowed one run over six innings pitched before Gregg (1-5) gave up the unearned winning run in the ninth.
Rays jump on Cecil early
The Rays took control of the game in the top of the first, scoring six runs. A Carl Crawford triple to left scoring Jason Bartlett started the rally. Longoria followed with a single plating Crawford.
After Rodriguez walked to put two men on, Rocco Baldelli cleared the bases with a double to left, and then Zobrist capped off the inning when he homered.