Rays Down Blue Jays 6-2, Keep Pace With Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays have almost everything they could want for a September playoff run.

They're in first place, and they're getting big hits and powerful pitching.

Now they just need some more fans to show up.

Carlos Pena homered and drove in four
runs, Wade Davis won his sixth straight decision and the Rays beat the
Toronto Blue Jays 6-2 before an announced crowd of just 11,968 on Monday
night.

The sparse gathering came one day
after the AL East co-leading Rays completed a three-game series against
Boston in which Tampa Bay took two of three.

"It was a big letdown," Rays All-Star
left fielder Carl Crawford said. "We came out all fired up and you see
that, it's really depressing."

The three games with Boston, which has
fallen seven games behind Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees in the
divisional and AL wild-card races, drew crowds of 29,461, 36,973 and
23,438.

"There's nothing we can do about that
anymore, honestly," Rays manager Joe Maddon said . "Whether it's winning
or losing or whatever, we can't even be concerned about that. Of course
it's disappointing, but we do appreciate the group that did come out.
It's too bad because you're missing really good baseball."

The Rays had no letdown during the game, winning for the 12th time in 16 games.

"Our guys are so good about being
ready right now," Maddon said. "You come into the dugout before the game
and you could feel the intensity of the group. I wasn't concerned. I
really thought we were ready to play and obviously we were."

Pena made it 5-1 with a three-run homer off Brett Cecil (11-7) in the third.

"This is the time of year he usually gets really hot," Crawford said.

Davis (11-9) allowed two runs and six
hits in 7 2/3 innings. The right-hander has the longest winning streak
by a rookie in franchise history. He had shared with Jeff Niemann (2008)
and Victor Zambrano (2001).

Chad Qualls replaced Davis with two
on and two outs in the eighth and struck out Jose Bautista, who leads
the majors with 42 home runs.

Aaron Hill hit his 20th homer of the season for the Blue Jays.

Cecil, who had beaten Tampa Bay in
three other starts this season, gave up five runs — two earned — and
five hits over seven innings.

The speedy Crawford reached when Hill
was charged with an error after moving in from second base and then
misplaying a slow grounder with two outs in the third. After Evan
Longoria
had an infield single, Pena hit an opposite-field drive to left
for his 26th homer this season.

"He just missed the ball," Blue Jays
manager Cito Gaston said of Hill. "Speed plays a role. That's why we're
trying to get some speed on this team because it makes (fielders)
hurry."

Crawford had an RBI double and Pena
hit a sacrifice fly to put the Rays up 2-0 in the first. Longoria had a
sacrifice fly during the eighth that extended the Tampa Bay advantage to
6-2.

The Blue Jays pulled within 2-1 on a
third-inning grounder by Travis Snider. Hill, who hit his 20th double
this year during the second, added a fifth-inning solo homer.

The time of the game was a crisp 2 hours, 14 minutes.

Notes
The Rays are a major
league-best 31-14 against left-handed starters. … Toronto 1B Lyle
Overbay
missed his third consecutive game. Gaston said Overbay continues
to not feel well and is undergoing tests. … Tampa Bay reliever Grant
Balfour
(ribs) threw a perfect inning in his second minor league
appearance for Class-A Charlotte. … Blue Jays INF Yunel Escobar sat
out for the second straight game with a stiff back. … Toronto OF
Vernon Wells was rested. … Longoria has 16 RBIs in his last 16 games.

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