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In end, Rays get the better of Jays
The pen keeps them in it, and Delmon Young's single in the ninth secures the win and series.
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published June 8, 2007
Brendan Harris hits a home run in the third inning off Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett, who struck out 13 in seven innings.
TORONTO -- Considering the way the Devil Rays' three-game series in Toronto began, it had the potential to become disastrous -- the one crushing point that has prompted Tampa Bay teams of the past to spin out of control and settle in the AL East cellar.
This season's fallout could have hit after the Rays' bullpen blew a five-run, ninth-inning lead and lost on a bases-loaded walk Tuesday. Instead, this Rays team continues to find ways to bounce back.
Backed by six strong innings from starter Edwin Jackson and three more scoreless relief innings -- the bullpen has thrown seven scoreless innings since Tuesday's implosion -- the Rays were able to leave Canada winning two of three games against the Blue Jays after a 5-3 victory Thursday at Rogers Centre.
The victory sealed the Rays' second road series win and marked their first back-to-back road wins since June 28 and 30.
"I think we're at the point where we believe we can win every night regardless of who is pitching against us," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's the high bounce after the fall. We've been doing okay for a bit now."
The Rays 26-32 continue to show resilience during difficult times. They took two of three in this series, won the last two games against Kansas City after dropping the first two, won a home series over the Tigers and played well in splitting two games in Chicago.
Blue Jays starter A.J. Burnett struck out 13 in seven innings, but the Rays were able to get enough timely hits to pull out the win, the biggest of which was Delmon Young's two-out, two-run, tiebreaking single off Toronto closer Jeremy Accardo with the bases loaded in the ninth.
"We're a little inconsistent right now, but it's still early," Young said. "But it shows that there are good things to come."
Jackson left with the score tied at 3 after six innings, but relievers Shawn Camp, Gary Glover and Al Reyes each pitched a scoreless inning and allowed just one hit to give Tampa Bay a chance to win.
"We were just able to put (Tuesday) behind us and get two games afterward," said leftfielder Carl Crawford, who added three hits. "We do a good job of putting the past behind us. We try to not even think about that game anymore."
A pair of leadoff walks hurt Jackson, who otherwise would have put himself in good position for his first win of the season. Jackson walked Frank Thomas to lead off the fourth. After Troy Glaus' double put Thomas at third, Adam Lind's groundout scored Thomas. In the next inning, Jackson issued a leadoff walk to Jason Phillips, who would score on Alex Rios' homer in the next at-bat.
"I'm just trying to keep it on a roll and not get too comfortable and act like every start is my last one," Jackson said.
Maddon said he believed Jackson took a step forward Thursday. He was willing to throw his off-speed pitches deep in counts and didn't miss many spots in the strike zone.
"I liked the way he pitched today," Maddon said. "Overall, I liked the composure. There were a couple times when it began to quicken up on him, and he was able to recompose himself."