TORONTO (AP)—As he watched a five-run lead slip away in the ninth inning, Tampa Bay outfielder Carl Crawford had a familiar thought: Here we go again.
“In the back of your mind, you’ve been going through this for six years, naturally you’re going to think, ‘Is this going to happen again?”’ Crawford said. “You don’t want to think that, but you’ve been through it so much you naturally think about it a little bit.”
With Tampa Bay leading 11-6, Chad Orvella walked Aaron Hill to lead off the ninth, then gave up consecutive RBI doubles to Adam Lind and Jason Phillips to make it 11-8. Shawn Camp came in and promptly walked Howie Clark. After getting Alex Rios to groundout, Vernon Wells laced a two-run double to left that scored Phillips and Rios and made it 11-10.
“You would like to think we could get three outs with a five-run lead,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.
Stairs tied the game with an RBI double off Casey Fossum (3-6) before Tim Corcoran intentionally walked Frank Thomas. After a passed ball allowed both runners to advance, Troy Glaus was intentionally walked. That brought up Hill for the second time in the inning, and he walked on five pitches, forcing Stairs home.
“It was neat to start it and finish it,” Hill said. “It was the first time guys didn’t try to do too much. Just a knock here, get them in there and it worked out for the best.”
The Blue Jays celebrated their third straight win by running out of their dugout and mobbing Stairs as he crossed home plate.
“There’s nothing better than coming across home plate and seeing Vernon throwing punches at you,” Stairs said. “Back in the day you used to cross home plate and shake hands, now it’s a bonding time for guys. I’m nearly 40 years old and punching guys in the ribs on a win. It’s nice. It’s a great feeling.”
Devil Rays closer Al Reyes, who has successfully converted all 14 of his save opportunities this season, was unavailable because he had pitched in each of the past three games.
“Without Reyes out there it’s a whole different tone,” Maddon said.
“It’s about the whole year, it’s not just about tonight,” he added. “I already told him before the game he was not going to pitch, so there was no way I was going to do that.”
Lind had a career-high five RBIs, including a three-run shot off Tampa Bay starter Andy Sonnanstine in the fourth, his sixth of the year.
Josh Towers (2-3) got the win, yielding an unearned run on two hits in two innings.
Toronto’s comeback denied Sonnanstine a win in his major league debut. Promoted from Triple-A Durham on Friday, he gave up six runs on eight hits over seven innings. Sonnanstine struck out five and walked none.
The Devil Rays lost despite collecting a season-high 17 hits.
“If you’ve got that many runs, you should win one hundred percent of the time,” Corcoran said.
B.J. Upton was 4-for-6 with a homer and two RBIs for Tampa Bay. Crawford added a solo homer, his sixth of the year, and drove in three runs.
Pitching for the second time since missing 19 days following an appendectomy, Roy Halladay allowed eight runs—seven earned—on 12 hits in 3 1-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. He is 1-2 with a 10.02 ERA in his past four starts.
“We got to Halladay probably as well as anybody has in the recent past,” Maddon said.
Toronto opened the scoring in the second when Hill doubled and scored on Lind’s single.
The Devil Rays chased Halladay with a four-run fourth, again stringing together four consecutive hits. Upton and Crawford started the rally with back-to-back homers and Greg Norton scored on Hill’s throwing error.
Upton’s blast, a two-run shot, was his ninth.
Crawford reached again on a passed ball in the eighth and scored on a single by Young.
Blue Jays catcher Sal Fasano left the game in the eighth with a sore groin. He was replaced by Phillips. Fasano will be re-evaluated Wednesday and is day-to-day.
Glaus hit an RBI single in the fourth and Alex Rios had an RBI groundout in the seventh.
Crawford’s third-inning single was the 871st hit of his career, moving him past Aubrey Huff for the most hits in franchise history. … Halladay allowed back-to-back homers for the first time in his career.