Rays' bats come alive vs. Blue Jays in Smyly's return

Rays' bats come alive vs. Blue Jays in Smyly's return

ST. PETERSBURG -- James Loney and Rene Rivera each homered as the Rays chased knuckleballer R.A. Dickey from the game after 4 2/3 innings during a 12-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Tropicana Field.

The home runs by Loney and Rivera were both two-run shots that came in the fourth inning. Tampa Bay added five more runs in the fifth with a rally that included an RBI triple by Asdrubal Cabrera.

Rays left-hander Drew Smyly made his season debut and allowed two runs over 4 2/3 innings. Smyly retired the first 10 batters he faced, but then surrendered a solo homer to Devon Travis, which was later followed by an RBI single off the bat of Danny Valencia.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Loney returns in style: Loney, who was activated earlier in the day after a right oblique strain had forced his first career visit to the disabled list, wasted little time making his presence felt, sending a Dickey knuckler deep into the right-field seats with Evan Longoria aboard in the fourth to bring the Rays even at 2. Loney added a double in the fifth, finishing 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

"It was fun being back out there again,'' Loney said. "[Being on the disabled list] was kind of slow, not doing too much, but the days started going by a little faster once we started hitting a little bit and taking ground balls. I'm just glad it's over."

Loney's two-run homer

Rivera keeps raking: One day after knocking in the game-winning run against Boston with a walk-off single, Rivera continued to factor heavily in the Rays' offense, belting his first home run of the year -- and first in a Rays uniform -- in the decisive fourth inning to give Tampa Bay a lead it would never relinquish.

"We were hoping that last night was something to get started a little bit and Rene proved that it was. He's feeling better. He had very aggressive swings the entire night so that was very good to see," said Rays manager Kevin Cash.

Rivera's two-run homer

Dickey chased in the fifth: Dickey's streak of 33 starts with at least five innings came to an end when he was pulled with two outs in the fifth. The veteran knuckleballer was charged with eight runs -- seven earned -- on nine hits and one walk. It was his shortest outing since he tossed 4 1/3 innings against the Twins on April 17, 2014. The outing also marked just the second time in his last 24 outings that Dickey didn't pitch at least six innings. Dickey's biggest problem against the Rays was the series of extra-base hits that included three doubles, a triple and a pair of home runs. More >

What a relief:  The Tampa Bay bullpen continued to dominate opposing hitters Friday night, with Jose Dominguez, who was optioned to Triple-A Durham after the game, and Matt Andriese (first career save) allowing one run and two hits in a combined 4 1/3 innings of work. In the last five games, Rays relievers have allowed two earned runs and seven hits in 18 2/3 innings, with 17 strikeouts and six walks.

"The bullpen's been incredible. Matt Andriese, what he did tonight, asking a young pitcher that's been a starter to come in and provide three innings of relief is not the easiest thing to do. He got his first Major League save. It worked out. He helped us out a lot," said Cash.

QUOTABLE
"They took it to us pretty good and we got a little sloppy at points. I'm glad it's over." -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons after the lopsided loss.

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Travis' home run in the fourth inning was his fifth of the year, which moved him into a tie with Doug Ault (1977) for the second most by a Blue Jays rookie in April. Carlos Delgado holds the franchise record with eight home runs in April of 1994.

Travis' solo shot

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Left-hander Daniel Norris will hope to move beyond his dead-arm phase when he takes the mound on Saturday night against the Rays at 6:10 ET. Norris isn't hurt but the velocity and movement on his pitches hasn't quite been there so far this season. That's expected to change in the near future, but whether it happens Saturday remains to be seen.

Rays: Erasmo Ramirez will take the ball for the Rays when they return to action. Ramirez was roughed up by Toronto in his only start of the season, allowing eight earned runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings at Rogers Center.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

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