TORONTO – Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe both homered twice, Willy Adames added some insurance with a two-run shot in the ninth, and the American League East-leading Tampa Bay Rays fended off a late Toronto comeback for an 11-7 win over the Blue Jays on Friday.
Mike Zunino, Kevin Kiermaier and Tommy Pham also drove in runs as Tampa (11-3) extended its win streak to five games.
Down 8-0, the Blue Jays (4-10) erupted with six runs in the bottom of the seventh to turn a rout into a close game.
Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit back-to-back run-scoring doubles, Alen Hanson followed with an RBI single and Luke Maile punctuated the rally with a two-run homer to the delight of the sparse crowd of 17,326. All the runs were charged to Yonny Chirinos, working his third inning of relief.
Justin Smoak cut the deficit to 8-7 in the eighth, scoring on a fielding error before Tampa intentionally walked Hanson to bring up Maile with the bases loaded and two out. Deigo Castillo struck out the Jays catcher on a borderline 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
Zunino hit an RBI double in the ninth off Javy Guerra and Adames followed with a two-run shot, his first homer of the season, to put the Rays ahead 11-7.
The Tampa bullpen, following two scoreless innings from opener Ryne Stanek, had been stellar until cracking in the seventh.
Toronto didn’t get its first base-runner until the fourth inning when Chirinos issued a lead-off walk to Randal Grichuk. Richard Urena got the Blue Jays’ first hit later in the inning, a two-out single.
Rookie left-hander Trent Thornton (0-1) took his first loss of the season, allowing five runs in just three-plus innings of work. The 25-year-old gave up eight hits, walked two and struck out three.
The game was significant for Toronto’s rookie manager Charlie Montoyo, who faced his former team for the first time.
Montoyo spent the last four seasons as a coach with Tampa (three as the Rays third base coach and the last as bench coach). He also managed Tampa’s triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls for eight seasons before that.
Meadows wasted no time getting Tampa on the board in the first inning. The Rays’ lead-off batter launched a 3-2 pitch from Thornton over the right-field wall for a 1-0 lead.
The Rays tacked on four more runs in the third inning.
Meadows hit a massive solo shot off the top-deck facade for his first career multihomer game, Lowe followed with a towering two-run shot — again off the top deck — and a Kiermaier triple drove in another run to extend Tampa’s lead to 5-0.
Pham drove in the Rays’ sixth run with a base hit off Sam Gaviglio in the sixth, extending his franchise-record on-base streak to 46 games.
Lowe’s second homer, a two-run shot to centre off Elvis Luciano in the seventh, gave Tampa an 8-0 lead.
Ryan Yarbrough (2-1) pitched the third and fourth innings to earn the win. The Rays outhit Toronto 16-9.
Freddy Galvis doubled in the seventh to extend his hit streak to seven games.
NOTES: The game took three hours 21 minutes. … Toronto continues its three-game series with the Rays Saturday. Right-hander Clay Buchholz is scheduled to make his Blue Jays debut. Toronto signed the former Red Sox star to a one-year deal during spring training. … Blue Jays left-hander Ryan Borucki suffered a setback in his rehab from elbow inflammation. The 25-year-old received a cortisone injection Friday and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
© 2019 The Canadian Press