Rays Need Late Rally To Hold On For Fifth Straight Win

Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe each hit a pair of home runs, but it took three runs in the top of the ninth inning for the Tampa Bay Rays to finally put away the Toronto Blue Jays, earning their fifth consecutive win with an 11-7 decision Friday at Rogers Centre.

Meadows started the game with a solo home run off Jays starter Trent Thornton, and made it 2-0 in the third with a blast off Thornton that reached the upper deck in right.

 

With two outs in the inning, Thornton walked Yandy Diaz in front of Brandon Lowe, who took a slider and put it into the same row in the fifth deck in right to make it 4-0.

 

Meadows and Lowe became the first teammates to hit home runs into the top deck of the 30-year-old venue in the same game, and just the fourth and fifth players all-time to reach the 500 level in right field.

But Tampa Bay was not done in the inning, as Avisail Garcia singled to center and scored on an RBI triple by Kevin Kiermaier to make it 5-0.

The Rays chased Thornton (0-1) two batters into the fourth, but it took until the sixth inning to get to his replacement, Sam Gaviglio. Kiermaier led off the inning with a double and took third on a flyout by Mike Zunino. Willy Adames was hit by a pitch and after Meadows popped out for the second out of the inning, Tommy Pham's infield hit allowed Kiermaier to score and make it 6-0, and also extended the outfielder's franchise-record streak of reaching base safely to 46 consecutive games.

Lowe made it 8-0 in the seventh with his second two-run homer of the evening, this one off reliever Elvis Luciano.

Tampa Bay would need all of those runs to hang on, as after Ryne Stanek worked two perfect innings to open, and Ryan Yarbrough (2-1) followed with two perfect frames of his own, manager Kevin Cash would turn to Yonny Chirinos to work the bulk of the game, and while Chirinos put up a scoreless fifth and sixth inning, Toronto would get to Chirinos in force in the seventh. Teoscar Hernandez's RBI double made it 8-1, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. added a two-run double to cut the lead back to 8-3. Alen Handson's RBI single plated Gurriel, and Luke Maile followed with an opposite-field home run, his first of 2019, to cut Tampa Bay's lead back to two runs before Cash could pull the plug on Gurriel.

Adam Kolarek got Billy McKinney to ground out, but gave up a double to Freddy Galvis, but Toronto short-circuited their own rally as Galvis was thrown out trying to advance to third on a pitch in the dirt by Diego Castillo to end the inning.

Castillo's problems continued in the eighth as he walked Justin Smoak on four pitches, and the Blue Jays first baseman took second on a wild pitch. A single by Hernandez advanced Smoak to third, and after pinch-hitter Rowdy Tellez struck out, Richard Urena's ground ball went through first baseman Ji-Man Choi's legs for a two-base error, bringing in Smoak to cut the lead back to a single run and putting the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second base. Hanson was intentionally walked, and Castillo fell behind Maile 3-0 before coming back with three straight sliders to strike out the Toronto catcher looking and leave the bases loaded.

Tampa Bay would finally pull away in the top of the ninth, as Garcia doubled off Javy Guerra, went to third on a Guillermo Heredia sacrifice bunt, and scored on a double by Zunino. Adames then made it 11-7 with his first home run of the season.

Jose Alvarado came on for a perfect ninth inning to finish the game and give Tampa Bay their fifth straight win.

The Rays now have two separate five-game winning streaks this season with just 14 games played. They can establish a new season-best with a victory Saturday afternoon.

SATURDAY'S MATCHUP

Tampa Bay Rays (11-3) at Toronto Blue Jays (4-10), 3:07 pm first pitch, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 2:00 with The Inside Pitch presented by Crown Eurocars.

Rays starter: LHP Blake Snell (2-1, 2.84 ERA)

Blue Jays starter: RHP Clay Buchholz (7-2, 2.01 ERA in 2018 with Arizona)

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Sunday: Rays at Toronto Blue Jays, 1:07 pm first pitch

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles, 7:10 pm first pitch

Wednesday: Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles, 7:10 pm first pitch

Thursday: Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles, 7:10 pm first pitch

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