Garza throws 7 2-3 scoreless innings in Rays’ win
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon thinks the Rays’ latest victory came in a “really classic kind of a game.”
“This team finds a way to win,” Garza said. “It’s amazing.”
Garza (11-7) allowed six hits and three walks with five strikeouts over 7 2-3 innings for the Rays. Grant Balfour got the final out in the eighth before Dan Wheeler pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 11 chances.
Pena provided the scoring with a solo homer in the fourth, his 27th of the season and sixth over his past 13 games.
“It was a very exciting finish,” Maddon said.
Tampa Bay, an AL-best 48-19 at home, remains 3 1/2 games ahead of Boston, which beat the New York Yankees 11-3.
“We don’t quit,” Garza said. “Everybody is out there for one reason, that’s to try to get to October.”
Blue Jays rookie David Purcey gave up five hits and struck out a career-high 11 in eight innings for his first career complete game. The left-hander was coming off a start Aug. 20 against the New York Yankees in which he allowed five earned runs and seven hits in four innings.
“Two great pitchers tonight,” Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. “They pitched a great ballgame.”
Purcey struck out 10 and allowed just three hits—two by Pena, including the homer—in the first five innings. His previous high for strikeouts was eight.
“I’ve been trying to pound the zone,” Purcey said. “I just tried to keep us in the game. That’s all I can do.”
Purcey tied the Blue Jays’ rookie mark for strikeouts. He is the fourth pitcher to do it, and the first since Dave Bush had 11 on Oct. 1, 2004, against the Yankees.
The Blue Jays got one hit, including a third-inning double by Joe Inglett, in each of the first four innings, but failed to score.
Garza retired nine in a row after Lyle Overbay’s single with two outs in the fourth. Matt Stairs ended the stretch with a two-out single in the seventh. After a single by Barajas put runners on first and second, John McDonald popped out.
“He’s got a great fastball,” Gaston said. “He can reach back and get a couple extra miles an hour on it. Curveball and changeup is good as well. It makes him really unhittable sometimes.”
The announced attendance was just 12,678, the fifth straight Rays’ home game with a crowd under 20,000.
This was the seventh 1-0 game in the history of Tropicana Field, and the first this season. … McDonald broke his bat when he tapped it on the plate while hitting in the fifth inning. … Rays C Dioner Navarro (tight hamstring) didn’t start but was available off the bench. He might sit Thursday, too. … Toronto 3B Scott Rolen (shoulder) could return to the lineup Thursday. … Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria (right wrist) swung a wiffle bat and is expected to take batting practice later this week. He hopes to return early next week. … Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Ripken Baseball and the Rays announced the purchase of the Class A Florida State League team in Vero Beach, Fla., and plan to relocate the franchise to Charlotte County, Fla., next year.