Rays answer Jays' comeback with 10-inning win

Rodriguez plates go-ahead run in extras after Toronto ties it in ninth

Rays answer Jays' comeback with 10-inning win

TORONTO -- If the Rays aren't going to make the playoffs, they can ruin the chances of other teams. That seems to be the team's mantra heading into the final stretch of the season. Sunday afternoon's 6-5 Rays win over the Blue Jays in 10 innings certainly didn't help the Blue Jays' cause.

The Rays entered Sunday's action four games away from being eliminated from the AL Wild Card race -- and the Blue Jays were four games out of a Wild Card spot -- but Tampa Bay showed postseason intensity from the start.

After seeing their fourth 4-0 lead of the road trip disappear when the Blue Jays tied the game at 5 on John Mayberry's homer in the ninth inning, the Rays got back to work in the 10th and managed to pick up the pieces.

Wil Myers drew a leadoff walk from Brandon Morrow, and Logan Forsythe followed with a single to right to put runners at first and third. Brett Cecil took over for Morrow and walked the first batter he faced, Yunel Escobar.

Sean Rodriguez then hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field that scored Myers, and that turned into the winning run.

But the Rays weren't ready to board the team charter back to the Tampa Bay area just yet. They needed three outs, and they had to be extracted from the top of the Blue Jays' order.

Brandon Gomes started the 10th for the Rays, and after striking out Jose Reyes swinging for the first out, he fell behind, 3-0, to the always dangerous Jose Bautista.

Gomes talked to catcher Ryan Hanigan at that point, and the pitcher told him he wanted to continue trying to "keep going away."

With the raucous crowd of 28,633 thinking long ball from Joey Bats, Gomes got him to pop out in foul territory for the second out of the inning.

"Something away from his barrel," Gomes said. "Trying to get that four-seam down and away to [Bautista]. I kind of had an idea he would be swinging 3-0, so I couldn't just lay one in there. I mean, 0-0, 3-0, I was throwing with the same intent, and he popped it up and it stayed in."

Making the catch wasn't easy, but Hanigan hauled it in, falling to his backside in the process.

"It looked like [the ball] was way in the stands," Gomes said. "I don't know if the wind brought it back or the spin, but [Hanigan] made a great play on it."

With one out to go and the left-handed hitting Adam Lind stepping to the plate, Rays manager Joe Maddon elected to call on southpaw Jeff Beliveau. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons countered with a right-handed pinch-hitter, Kevin Pillar.

Beliveau threw all fastballs until Pillar popped up the fifth one on a 1-2 count. Forsythe made the catch at second to end the game, and Beliveau had his first Major League save.

Sunday's game "shows what kind of team we have, what kind of offense we have," Beliveau said. "To give it up and come right back and pick our bullpen up."

Maddon complimented the way his team continues to play, given their position. And he liked the team's grit on Sunday.

The Rays built a 4-0 advantage with some early work against Toronto starter Mark Buehrle when they scored two in the third and two in the fourth, highlighted by Ben Zobrist's 10th home run of the season.

Chris Archer started for the Rays and blanked the Blue Jays through six innings, before Edwin Encarnacion led off the seventh with his 32nd home run of the season. The Blue Jays couldn't get anything else against Archer, who struck out nine and should have come away with his 10th win of the season, only to finish with a no-decision.

In the top of the eighth, Escobar answered the Toronto fans' taunting with his seventh home run of the season, a well-struck blast into the left-field stands. The Rays' shortstop, who normally makes a safe sign when he touches home, then executed a more pronounced safe sign in his own version of "sticks and stones" when he touched the plate with the Rays' fifth run.

"I have no problem with [the treatment by Blue Jays fans]," Escobar said. "I come here and I enjoy playing. They're great fans. I have no problem with the fans, and I just want to come here and play and help our team win."

Lind's three-run homer off Grant Balfour in the eighth cut the Rays' lead to 5-4. Jake McGee then got first two outs of the ninth before surrendering the pinch-hit homer to Mayberry that tied the game at 5.
 
"This time of year, where we're at, there's really no room for error," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "It's always tough, too, when you battle back and it's one of those games where not much is happening, and you come back, strike quick, and now the momentum's on your side, and everyone is upbeat and you come back and end up dropping it like that, those are always tough."

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