Longoria slams Rays past Blue Jays 6-4.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Rookie All-Star Evan Longoria paid the price for a memorable moment.
Longoria hit his first career grand slam during a five-run sixth and Matt Garza threw 7 2-3 scoreless innings to help the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays past the Toronto Blue Jays 6-4 on Saturday night.
Longoria has struggled recently, going 3-for-23 with no RBIs in his previous seven games. He broke out the slide in a big way with the bases-clearing drive off Toronto ace Roy Halladay (11-7) to put the Rays ahead 5-0.
“Definitely one of my more prouder at-bats,” said Longoria, who fouled two balls off his left ankle during a 10-pitch at-bat. “He’s a tough pitcher. He was just making pitches. It was all I could do with them until he finally threw the one over the plate I could handle.”
Longoria underwent treatment and had the ankle wrapped after the game, but he expects to play in Sunday’s game.
“Unbelieveable,” Rays first baseman Carlos Pena said of Longoria’s homer. “To keep his focus after hitting himself. I know that hurts. Then come up that huge hit, that says a lot about how good a hitter he is.”
Garza (8-5) allowed two hits—coming on singles in the third by Scott Rolen and Marco Scutaro during the seventh—and struck out six. The right-hander was coming off a start on July 12 when he gave up seven runs and 11 hits in five innings of an 8-4 loss at Cleveland.
“I was just trying to match him (Halladay) and I was able to,” Garza said.
The Rays have won two in a row following a seven-game losing streak. Tampa Bay has a 1 1-2 game lead over Boston, which lost 4-2 to the Los Angeles Angels.
Halladay allowed five runs and eight hits—including seven in the sixth— in six innings. He dropped to 8-2 in his last 13 starts.
“That’s what good teams do,” Halladay said. “They get guys on and when you make a mistake, they capitalize on it.”
Dan Wheeler got the final two outs for his fourth save.
Ben Zobrist opened the sixth with a single that bounced over Rolen at third base and then advanced to second on Akinori Iwamura’s bunt single. The Rays loaded the bases when Carl Crawford reached on an infield single that traveled about 45 feet and stopped on the first-base line.
Carlos Pena made it 1-0 with an RBI single, a soft liner into left-center field. One out later, Longoria hit his 17th homer.
Toronto pitching coach Brad Arnsberg was ejected by plate umpire Mike DiMuro in the seventh. Arnsberg was tossed after he went to the mound to talk with reliever Jesse Carlson.
DiMuro also ejected Blue Jays pitcher Brandon League after he hit Dioner Navarro with a pitch with one out in the eighth. Navarro had reached on a bunt single in his previous at-bat, three batters after Longoria’s homer gave the Rays a five-run advantage.
“We were just trying to score runs,” Navarro said.
Rays manager Joe Maddon thinks Navarro was hit intentionally.
“I really disagree with that they did,” Maddon said. “We’ll stop trying to score runs when they stop trying. Maybe in 1922 you wouldn’t do that because nobody could hit a home run. But in the year 2008, people can hit home runs. You see how they came back. Once again in baseball, for me, there are moments when people definitely mentally move at a glacier pace and they really have to get beyond it. It stunk.”
League said the pitch was sinker that got away from him.
“I don’t know what the umpire was thinking,” League said. “It caught me off guard. It was just a weird game.”
Cliff Floyd hit a solo homer leading-off the eighth that extended the Rays’ lead to 6-0.
Singer MC Hammer took batting practice with Tampa Bay principal owner Stuart Sternberg and hit two balls off the left-field wall. Hammer was at Tropicana Field to perform in a postgame concert. … Halladay is 9-6 all-time against Tampa Bay. … Rays closer Troy Percival (strained left hamstring) threw off a bullpen mound and took part in fielding drills, and could return in the next couple days. … Tampa Bay SS Jason Bartlett (sprained right knee) is scheduled to run the bases Monday and Tuesday, and then may go out on a minor league rehab assignment. … Upton, who hit .208 in his previous 25 games, was dropped from third to seventh in the lineup. He went 1-for-3 with a walk.