Navarro continues to sting Rays at The Trop

Backup catcher swats 4th straight HR vs. ex-team on 3-hit night

Navarro continues to sting Rays at The Trop

ST. PETERSBURG -- Given the amount of offensive talent the Blue Jays possess, the praise aimed for Dioner Navarro from manager John Gibbons after an 8-5 victory over the Rays on Monday said a lot.

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"He's a good hitter," Gibbons said. "I mean, we saw that all last year. He's probably the best pure hitter on the team, you know as far as his approach, both sides of the plate. He's got a good, natural swing. He's a student, he studies hitting. He's not just up there swinging, he's a good hitter."

The remarks sprouted from the backup catcher's three-hit performance, which matched his season high that was set April 21 against Baltimore.

Navarro's night began with a leadoff double in the second inning that led to the Blue Jays' first run of the game after the Rays struck in the bottom of the first.

Two innings later, with Toronto trailing 3-2, Navarro crushed a solo home run -- his first of the season -- over the wall in right field. He followed that up with a single in the sixth that was part of the Blue Jays' decisive four-run surge.

Coming into this three-game series with the Rays, Navarro had just one hit in his previous 16 at-bats and just two extra-base hits on the season, but all of that went out of the window Monday.

"Obviously, I haven't been getting a lot of playing time," said Navarro, 31. "I've been working my tail off in the cage, doing the little things to keep me ready. I've been in this situation before. I know what it takes. I've been around for a little bit. I just got to keep doing me, I just got to keep getting at-bats and keep feeling good about myself, and it's been showing up lately."

Navarro's big night came at Tropicana Field, a place he called home for parts of five seasons (2006-10), and a place he has thrived of late. In his last 11 at-bats at The Trop, Navarro has homered three times, with all three coming in his last four visits. In fact, his four most recent home runs all have come against the Rays.

"It means a lot that we won the game," Navarro said. "It's great to play in front of my family, that's no doubt. I had a whole bunch of people here today, friends and family, and it just feels great to play in front of them.

"I'm just glad I didn't strike out anytime today, because I wouldn't have stopped hearing it from my son."

Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.