TORONTO (AP)—Travis Lee couldn’t believe he homered with his team down to its last strike.
Lee fell behind in the count 0-2, then homered to right to overcome a 2-1 deficit.
“It’s just pure shock. I think everyone is still shocked,” Lee said “I was down 0-2 and in my first two swings it looked like I was taking good cuts, but I had no shot of hitting those balls. I think if I would hit those balls it would have hit my hand. They were cutting in so hard.”
Lee thought Batista threw a good cutter.
“I can’t even remember what happened. I just know it was cutting in and the bat vibrated when I hit it,” Lee said.
Batista declined to talk after the game. Catcher Gregg Zaun said he didn’t throw a bad pitch.
“I don’t think Lee put a great swing on it. He just happened to get the barrel on it and the wind carried it out,” Zaun said.
Seth McClung would have recorded Tampa Bay’s first complete game of the year had the Devil Rays lost, but he got the victory instead.
“We don’t want a complete game,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella joked. “That’s a thrilling win. I don’t remember seeing in all my years of baseball, two outs, two strikes, a pitch hit out of the park like that.”
McCLung (6-8) allowed just two runs and two hits in eight innings, struck out six and walked three. He had just returned to the team after attending the funeral of his grandmother.
“Today I was really focused on what I was doing,” McClung said. “It was emotional, but I used baseball as an escape.”
Danys Baez pitched a perfect ninth for his 32nd save as Tampa Bay won for just the third time in 77 games when trailing after eight innings.
Towers allowed two runs—one earned—and five hits in eight-plus innings.
“We were in a good position going into the ninth, and then we had our closer out there,” Towers said.
McClung took a no-hit bid into the sixth, when he walked Gabe Gross and gave up an RBI triple to Orlando Hudson. Russ Adams followed with an RBI grounder to first. with Lee unable to throw out Hudson at the plate.
Tampa Bay scored its first run in the third in the third after Alex Gonzalez reached on shortstop Russ Adams’ fielding error and Joey Gathright singled. One batter later, Carl Crawford hit an RBI single.
Lee has nine home runs in his last 24 games. … Baltimore’s Bruce Chen and Chris Ray pitched a two-hitter against Toronto last Wednesday. … The Devil Rays are in the midst of playing 22 straight games against the AL East. … The Devil Rays had won nine of 12 before the slide.