Buehrle keeps working toward regular season

Buehrle keeps working toward regular season

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Evan Longoria and James Loney each homered for the first time this spring to lead the Rays to a 9-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Tampa Bay got things started in the second inning with a rally off veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle. Desmond Jennings and Brandon Guyer led off the inning with back-to-back singles and later came around to score on a two-run single by David DeJesus.

The Rays then used the home run to double their lead. Longoria's came on a 1-1 pitch from Buehrle in the third inning and Loney later followed in the sixth with a solo shot off right-handed reliever Steve Delabar. That put the Rays in front 4-0 and marked a positive development for the heart of their order.

"It's a little bit of a confidence builder. Buehrle is always tough," said Longoria. "I thought we swung the bats pretty well against him. We haven't had much success against him in the past. Although it's Spring Training, it's something we can build on going into the season."

Buehrle was charged with three runs over 4 1/3 innings of work. He also allowed seven hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out three in his longest outing of the spring. It marked the first time Buehrle allowed a run in three appearances this spring.

"They were aggressive early," Buehrle said. "I don't think I was as on, location-wise, as I've been early, but it's Spring Training. I felt pretty good today, which I think gets me into trouble because I overthrow instead of staying within myself.

"I try to throw a little extra and I get in trouble missing over the middle. I made some mistakes even on the outs, balls over the middle that weren't hitting my spots. Pitch count, got out there for the fifth inning, which is good."

Right-hander Chris Archer got the start for Tampa Bay and pitched four scoreless innings. His only trouble came in the first inning when Maicer Izturis reached on an error and Caleb Gindl and Dioner Navarro followed with back-to-back walks. Archer then got out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending-double-play grounder off the bat of first baseman Daric Barton.

The Blue Jays were held off the board until two outs in the ninth inning when they were able to pick up three runs against the Rays bullpen to extend the game.

Third baseman Steve Tolleson was the only member of the Blue Jays starting lineup who recorded a hit, as he had a single and a two-run home run in the ninth. Navarro, who got the start at DH, did reach base via a pair of walks.

Up next: Right-hander Aaron Sanchez will make his fourth start of the spring when the Blue Jays host the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon at 1:07 p.m. ET at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. You can listen to the game, live, on Gameday Audio. Sanchez likely will go five innings and is expected to be followed by Todd Redmond, Bo Schultz, Colt Hynes and Scott Barnes. Of the two relievers, Redmond and Hynes are the two with the most realistic chances of cracking the Opening Day roster.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.