ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jose
Bautista hit his major league-leading 43rd homer during a 10-run sixth
inning and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 13-5 on Tuesday
Tampa Bay lost for only the fifth time
in 17 games but fell a game behind the first-place New York Yankees in
the AL East. The Rays and Yankees, who beat Oakland 9-3, had been tied
atop the division for the previous eight days.
Bautista capped the sixth-inning
outburst with a three-run shot off reliever Lance Cormier that put the
Blue Jays up 11-3. It was the most runs scored in one inning by Toronto
since an 11-run sixth on July 25, 2007, at Minnesota.
Bautista also had a broken-bat,
run-scoring single — giving him 103 RBIs this season — during a two-run
eighth that extended the cushion to 13-3.
Ricky Romero (11-8) gave up five runs,
three hits and five walks in 7 1/3 innings for the Blue Jays, who can
stop a stretch of 10 straight series defeats at Tampa Bay with a win on
Jeff Niemann (10-5) struggled in his
second consecutive start since returning from a strained right shoulder,
giving up seven runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. The Tampa Bay
right-hander has allowed 17 runs over 8 2/3 innings in his past two
Neimann allowed only two hits though
five innings before Toronto started the sixth with five hits and a
batter hit by a pitch. DeWayne Wise had an RBI single, Vernon Wells hit a
two-run double, and Adam Lind and John Buck had consecutive RBI doubles
as the Blue Jays took a 6-3 lead and ended Niemann's night.
Cormier entered and gave up Aaron Hill's two-run homer that made it 8-3.
Romero held the Rays hitless until
there were two outs in the fifth, when Ben Zobrist hit an RBI single and
Dan Johnson drove in a pair with a double to put Tampa Bay ahead 3-1.
John McDonald put the Blue Jays up 1-0 in the third on his second homer in the last three games.
Romero allowed two baserunners
through four innings — walks to Zobrist and B.J. Upton — and both were
erased on double plays. The left-hander got early defensive help when
Wise made a diving catch in right on Upton's drive leading off the
Reid Brignac had a two-run single in the eighth for Tampa Bay.
Toronto has 201 homers this season. … Rays reliever Grant Balfour (ribs) could pitch in a simulated game Wednesday.
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