Tampa Bay has won four straight against the Blue Jays to take a 7-2 lead in the season series. The Devil Rays swept a three-game set last week in Toronto.
“We’ve been playing awfully competitive baseball for the last month now, and it’s good to see,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said afterward. “These kids are starting to gain a little confidence.”
The Devil Rays went 14-12 in July for their first winning month since June, 2000 (15-11). Tampa Bay is 1-2 in August after losing two of three against the Kansas City Royals over the weekend.
The Devil Rays were limited to six hits Sunday in a 2-0 loss after falling 5-3 on Saturday.
Toronto had lost four straight before winning the final two games of its three-game series with Anaheim over the weekend.
The Blue Jays have won consecutive games for the first time since July 17-18 at Boston—and only the second time since June 26-27 against Baltimore. They are 25-30 since setting a franchise record for wins in May with 13.
Kelvim Escobar gave up six hits and came within two outs of his fourth career shutout as the Blue Jays beat the Angels 4-0 Sunday.
Toronto hopes Cory Lidle can break out his slump Monday. The veteran right-hander is 1-5 with an 8.60 ERA in his last seven starts.
Lidle yielded five runs and seven hits over seven innings of a 5-3 loss to the Devil Rays on Thursday.
STANDINGS: Blue Jays - 3rd place, 12 GB, AL East. Devil Rays - 5th place, 26 GB, AL East.
BLUE JAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Lidle (11-9, 5.81 ERA). Lidle is 2-2 with a 6.46 ERA in five career starts against Tampa Bay.
DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Victor Zambrano (8-5, 4.39 ERA). Zambrano has won seven of his last nine decisions. The Venezuelan pitcher was 3-1 with a 5.24 ERA in July. Zambrano went 6 2-3 innings, yielding three runs and seven hits to earn a 5-3 win over Toronto on Thursday. The right-hander is holding hitters to a .226 batting average.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Blue Jays - Carlos Delgado, .306 avg., 31 HRs, 107 RBIs and 88 runs; Bobby Kielty, 6 SBs. Devil Rays - Rocco Baldelli, .303 avg. and 62 runs; Aubrey Huff, 19 HRs and 59 RBIs; Carl Crawford, 33 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Devil Rays, 7-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Blue Jays - RHP Cliff Politte has 12 saves in 17 opportunities. … 1B Delgado is batting .500 (4-for-8) with two homers against Zambrano. … OF Frank Catalanotto is batting .104 (5-for-48) over the last 14 games. Devil Rays - OF Huff is 6-for-11 with two doubles and a home run against Lidle. … OF Crawford leads the AL with 33 SBs. … OF Baldelli is batting .300 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 17 games since the All-Star break.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jays - 31-25 on the road; Devil Rays - 22-31 at home.
INJURIES: Blue Jays - RHP Pete Walker (knee), 15-day DL; LHP Doug Creek (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob File (shoulder), 60-day DL. Devil Rays - SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; INF Terry Shumpert (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Ben Grieve (blood clot), 15-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 60-day DL.