TORONTO (AP) -- An extra-inning grand slam sent the Tampa Bay Rays home feeling good after an nine-game road trip that had its ups and downs.
Dioner Navarro hit a grand slam in the 13th inning after Carl Crawford drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly and the Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-3 Thursday night."That's the kind of game that if you lose, it's really rather devastating," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "When you win it with this kind of script, it can be something that can catapult you in a positive way. I'm really pleased with the grit of the group tonight."The Rays went 4-5 against Baltimore, Boston and Toronto. They were swept in three games by the Red Sox.Facing Toronto's seventh pitcher, Shawn Camp (0-1), Jason Bartlett singled off the glove of second baseman Aaron Hill to begin the 13th and went to third on Akinori Iwamura's base hit. Crawford lifted a sacrifice fly to right and Bartlett artfully skirted catcher Gregg Zaun, who had ranged up the line to catch Alex Rios' throw.B.J. Upton singled and Carlos Pena was intentionally walked before Navarro put the game out of reach with his second career grand slam."This is big for us," Navarro said. "We had a bad series in Boston and we came back here. A game like this is going to get us pumped up for the next series back home."The Rays open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night, then host the Yankees for four.Tampa Bay's winning rally snapped a streak of 17 consecutive scoreless innings by Toronto's bullpen, but the real culprits were the Blue Jays' batters, who squandered several chances, including failing to score Rios after a leadoff triple in the 10th."It's pathetic. We're a way better club than this," Zaun fumed. "There's no excuses. We can talk about it until we're blue in the face. I'm pretty sick of talking about it. We need to go out there and start getting those runs home."J.P. Howell (1-0) worked three scoreless innings for the win as Tampa Bay beat Toronto for the sixth time in seven games. The Rays have won four of their past five series.The Blue Jays trailed 3-0 after eight but rallied in the ninth against veteran closer Troy Percival.Scott Rolen led off with a single and Matt Stairs struck out before Vernon Wells hit a two-run homer, his fifth. The runs were the first Percival had allowed after starting his season with 11 scoreless innings.Lyle Overbay doubled and Hill's single scored pinch-runner Joe Inglett with the tying run, but Zaun flied out and Percival caught Marco Scutaro looking to send the game to extra innings."They took some good at-bats against me," Percival said. "Hill hit a good pitch. Probably the only good pitch I threw that got hit. It's just one of those days where they beat me."Rays right-hander Edwin Jackson matched a season-high by working eight shutout innings, only to see his effort spoiled in the ninth. Jackson scattered six hits, walked one and struck out three, and has not won since beating Seattle on April 10.Pena hit a solo homer, his eighth, and former Blue Jays prospect Gabe Gross added a two-run shot for the Rays.Pena had a closed-door meeting with manager Joe Maddon after striking out three times Wednesday, giving him eight strikeouts in nine at bats. He started 0-for-2 Thursday before blasting an opposite field shot to begin the seventh.Toronto starter Jesse Litsch allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings. He walked none and struck out two.The Blue Jays scored six runs in Wednesday's victory, ending a 20-game stretch in which they had failed to score more than five runs. But Toronto's offense was back in a funk until the ninth-inning rally."If we're going to get to the point where we're going to be a playoff team, we're going to have to come through," Overbay said. "We're going to have to score some runs and do those little things that championship teams do. We're just not doing it right now. We're getting closer, but we've got to get it going soon."
Navarro's homer was his first of the season. His first career grand slam was July 20, 2007 at New York. ... Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria, who came in 4-for-29 (.138) in his past eight games, was held out of the starting lineup for first since being recalled from Triple-A on April 12 but entered the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh. ... Rays OF Cliff Floyd (knee) will take batting practice when the team returns home Friday and could be activated soon. ... The Blue Jays placed shortstops David Eckstein (hip) and John McDonald (ankle) on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 7, and recalled INF Joe Inglett from Triple-A Syracuse. ... Toronto RHP Armando Benitez, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury, is due to join Syracuse Friday.