Five-run 6th helps Rays hold off Blue Jays

Five-run 6th helps Rays hold off Blue Jays

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Blue Jays might be a top contender for the American League East title, but it would appear the Rays have become their kryptonite.

Tampa Bay continued its season-long success against one of the best teams in the division by pulling out a 7-5 victory on Saturday night at Tropicana Field. The loss coupled with Boston's win over Oakland dropped the Blue Jays into a tie for first in the AL East.

Rays shortstop Matt Duffy delivered the big blow in a five-run sixth with a three-run double off the wall in left field. Logan Forsythe added three hits and scored a run, Kevin Kiermaier homered and everyone in the the Rays' lineup reached base at least once.

"It turned out to be a huge run," Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Kiermaier's late homer. "You never know when they are. That's why you don't stop. You keep you getting those runs, it's OK to get greedy."

Kiermaier two-run home run

The Blue Jays rallied in the ninth, scoring four runs before Alex Colome retired Edwin Encarnacion on a fly ball to left as the potential go-ahead run to lock up his 30th save.

Colome locks it down

Right-hander Marco Estrada took the loss for Toronto after he allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks over five-plus innings. Estrada faced just two batters over the minimum until he went out for the sixth and did not retire a batter. Rays left-hander Blake Snell picked up the victory by limiting the Blue Jays to one run over six innings.

Estrada's strong start unravels in sixth

Tampa Bay improved to 9-6 against the Blue Jays this season, including a 5-4 record at Tropicana Field. The Rays have outscored Toronto 80-56, and have homered in all but one of those 15 games. The Blue Jays have won just one season series against the Rays since 2006, and have gone 72-108 over that span.

"I'm not going to go back and look at that sixth inning, there's no reason to," Estrada said. "I'm going to remember how I felt those first five innings and just try to do the same thing all over again my next start. I feel good mentally, physically, these things happen in baseball, it's not the first time and it won't be the last. I've just got to forget about it and move on."

Estrada fans Miller

Snell ya later: Snell had not pitched six full innings since July 24, but finally reached that mark on Saturday. After pitching three laborious innings, Snell was more efficient in his final three innings. He struck out seven, walked two and threw 104 pitches in his best outing in more than a month.

"I feel like I just got better and better throughout the game," Snell said. "I was happy about the way that I was attacking the zone. I felt more aggressive." More >

Snell fans seven vs. Blue Jays

Timely hit: The Blue Jays' high-powered offense got off to another slow start, but did make the most of its one opportunity. In the top of the third, Devon Travis singled and Josh Donaldson drew a two-out walk to put a pair of runners on base for Encarnacion. Toronto's first baseman then came through with a sinking single to center that fell just in front of Kiermaier and gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. The problem was that the Blue Jays would not really threaten again until the ninth.

"We're not getting a lot of hits, that's for sure," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose team recorded just six hits in each of the first two games. " We didn't get too many last night and we didn't get too many tonight. You're not going to score many runs if you don't get any hits."

Encarnacion's RBI single

Seven is heaven: The first seven batters reached base for the Rays in the sixth, quickly flipping a 1-0 deficit on its head. Estrada, who had been cruising, was chased after Duffy's bases-clearing double.

"You're not always going to be able to just hit a team to death, you're going to need to find a way to win games and stay in games by grinding out at-bats and stringing together good at-bats," Duffy said of the big inning. "And when you do that, you find yourself in a situation like that where you have bases loaded, nobody out, and no one has hit the ball hard yet."

Longoria's RBI single

Too little too late: The Blue Jays entered ninth trailing 7-1, but that didn't stop them from making things very interesting. Toronto picked up three walks and added three singles while scoring four times, which brought Encarnacion to the plate. Encarnacion took a first-pitch strike from Colome before ending the game on the fly ball to left.

"He was wild," Gibbons said of Enny Romero, who walked three and allowed one hit before giving way to Colome. "Let us back into the game and we made a run at it. But you know we've been cold these last two days with the bats. That's no secret. Shoot, Marco was great, he was rolling right along and then bam, little hit to start that and then they piled on right there. But the key is we've got to swing the bats."

Travis' two-run single

"I saw Estrada just attacking the zone, I felt like he was under 10 pitches for each of the first four innings, or something like that. So it kind of made me want to go out there and do the same thing. It was just good attacking ... but with meaning." -- Snell, on needing just 40 pitches to get through the last three innings

Kiermaier's home run in the seventh came off Toronto reliever Joe Biagini. That was the first homer Biagini has surrendered all season, which ended a run of 49 consecutive appearances without one to begin his big league career.

Kiermaier on Rays' win, homer

Estrada picked up his first loss on the road since April 16 at Boston, which snapped a streak of 10 unbeaten starts on the road.

Blue Jays: Left-hander J.A. Happ (17-4, 3.23 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series against the Rays on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Happ has faced the Rays four times this season and is 1-1 with a 5.66 ERA.

Rays: Chris Archer (8-17, 4.10 ERA) is still trying to avoid becoming the first Rays pitcher since Tanyon Sturtze in 2002 to have 18 losses -- a franchise record. Archer has a 3.25 ERA against the Blue Jays in 18 career starts.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Sam Blum is a reporter for based in St. Petersburg.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.