St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – Carlos Pena hit a three-run homer and drove in four as Tampa Bay downed Toronto, 6-2, in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
Evan Longoria stroked a pair of hits and knocked in a run and Carl Crawford drove in one and scored twice for the Rays, who have won three in a row and seven of nine.
Tampa temporarily moved a half-game ahead of the Yankees in the AL East, with the Yanks-A’s game still being played.
Wade Davis (11-9) allowed six hits and two runs over 7 2/3 innings, fanning three without a walk for the win. The righty has reeled off six straight positive decisions since losing on June 27 to Arizona.
Aaron Hill homered and Travis Snider knocked in the other run for the Blue Jays, who lost their second straight.
Brett Cecil (11-7) gave up five hits and five runs — two earned — with five strikeouts over seven full frames in defeat.
Tampa scored twice in the first as Crawford doubled in B.J. Upton and Pena later drove in Crawford with a sacrifice fly.
John McDonald tripled to start the second and scored on a Snider groundout, but the Rays got three back in the home half when Crawford reached on an error, Longoria singled and Pena launched a three-run shot.
Hill’s solo blast in the fifth made it 5-2 but Davis didn’t allow Toronto a sniff at a run until putting two on with two out in the eighth. Qualls came on and fanned Jose Bautista swinging to end the inning.
The Rays got a sixth run in the home portion after Jason Bartlett reached second on two McDonald errors, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Longoria’s fly to left.
Qualls and Randy Choate combined to retire Toronto in order in the ninth.
Pena last drove in at least four runs in a game on July 29 against Detroit, part of a 3-for-4 effort at the plate…Tampa has won seven of 13 over Toronto this season, but just three of seven in Florida…This marks just the second time since divisional play in MLB history that two teams in the same division had 80 wins at the 130-game mark as the Yankees and Rays do…The last time was 1993 when the Giants and Braves did so on their way to 103 and 104 wins, respectively.
08/30 21:45:05 ET