Rays' early KO of Jays nets Price 17th win

Rays' early KO of Jays nets Price 17th win

Rays' early KO of Jays nets Price 17th win
TORONTO -- Things were going so well for the Rays on Sunday that even a sure out turned into a single for B.J. Upton.

With everything going their way, the Rays delivered an early knockout punch with a six-spot in the second en route a 9-4 win over the Blue Jays to earn a split of their four-game series.

By winning, the Rays (73-61) finished their seven-game road trip to Texas and Toronto with a 3-4 mark.

Upton's hit came in the midst of the Rays' feeding frenzy in the second, when he lofted a fly ball that normally would have been a routine out. Instead, right-fielder Moises Sierra lost the ball in the sun. After the ball landed 10 feet away from Sierra, who had turned his back and fell to the ground in a protective mode, Upton sheepishly accepted the gift, shrugging his shoulders and smiling while offering his teammates the team unity signal.

"Over the course of the year, you barrel some balls and they're outs and something falls like that. I'll take it," Upton said. "I looked at the dugout like, 'Hey.'"

Upton's hit loaded the bases for Ben Zobrist, who singled home the Rays' fourth and fifth runs of the second inning. The six runs in the second represented the Rays' biggest single-inning outburst since they scored seven in the fifth inning of their Aug. 18 game against the Angels in Anaheim.

The Rays finished with a season-high 18 hits, which topped the previous high of 17 against the Angels on Aug. 18. Every Rays starter had at least one hit.

"It was one of those days, man. We came out early, got some runs early, swung the bats well," said Upton, looking ahead to Monday afternoon's game against the American League East-leading Yankees. "... [It was a] big win finishing the road trip, definitely what we need going into facing the Yankees tomorrow."

Other things that fell the Rays' way on Sunday included manager Joe Maddon's decision to start Ben Francisco and Carlos Pena.

Francisco, who joined the Rays via a trade with the Astros on Friday night, homered off of Ricky Romero while leading off the second.

"Any time you win and have a nice game on top of that, it's a pretty good feeling," Francisco said. "... Ricky got ahead of me with two fastballs, I got down 0-2, he left one over the middle and I put a good swing on it."

Pena, who has struggled offensively, got the start against the left-handed Romero on Sunday -- due, in part, to the reverse splits Romero brought into the game, with righties hitting .248 against him and lefties .290. Pena got hit by a Romero pitch during the second inning, then led off the third with his 17th homer of the season, which came against Romero's replacement, Chad Jenkins.

That put the Rays up, 8-0.

Oh, and one more thing the Rays had going for them: David Price.

Price had not been a happy camper after getting roughed up in Texas by the Rangers on Monday night. During that outing, Price allowed six runs on 10 hits over four innings, which snapped his eight-game win streak along with his streak of 12 consecutive quality starts.

"I felt good," Price said. "[My] body felt good out there. ... I felt good in Texas, too. Felt about the same."

New streaks began on Sunday, as Price moved to 17-5 on the season. He did not allow a hit until one out in the fourth, and gave up two runs on six hits, with four walks and five strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. Price chose to compliment the offense.

"They've done a good job hitting for me all year, especially early in the games," Price said. "That makes it a lot easier for me to go out there and try [to] find the strike zone, which I was trying to do all day. But our offense did a great job of putting up runs."

The Rays were having such a good day that even Edwin Encarnacion could not hurt them with his power. When the Blue Jays' slugger connected for his third home run in three days, the two-run blast in the ninth barely put a dent in the final score.

A crowd of 18,568 cheered for the jets that darted across the skyline throughout the game. A contingent from Montreal cheered wildly for former Rays coaches Dave Martinez and Tom Foley, who once played for the Expos. The crowd also booed Romero, who moved to 8-13 on the season while watching his ERA swell to 5.85 after surrendering seven earned runs in one-plus innings against the Rays.

"There is no excuse, I've just been getting beat," Romero said. "You're going to see me with my head held high, there is nothing I should be ashamed of. As tough as it has been out there, those performances have been rough. It's tough, it's tough to hear boos from your own fans."

Ironically, even though the Rays had a losing road trip, they outscored the Rangers, 13-11, and the Blue Jays, 15-12.

"It felt good, it feels good to be able to go out and put up a bunch of runs and just let the pitchers do what they do best," Evan Longoria said. "It just kind of reminds you, one, how few and far between games like this are for us. And two, how much more you want to do it on a daily basis and how fun the game is when you do it, and how much easier it makes it for the guy on the mound."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com.Bill This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.