Bautista hits 38th homer as Blue Jays beat Rays

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TORONTO (AP)—Three straight promising innings. Three straight double plays. The Tampa Bay Rays swung the bats well Monday night, but all those twin-killings proved costly.

Jose Bautista(notes) hit his 38th home run, Ricky Romero(notes) won his sixth straight decision and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Rays 7-3 to avoid a four-game sweep.

Ground ball double plays helped Romero escape jams in the fifth and sixth innings, and a line drive right at shortstop Yunel Escobar(notes) ended with Desmond Jennings(notes) doubled off second in the seventh, snuffing out a first-and-second situation.

“Baseball luck was against us tonight,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

The Rays fell 7 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL wild-card race.

“We were obviously hoping for the sweep,” Rays designated hitter Johnny Damon(notes) said. “We just couldn’t get that hit to go through the infield.”

Tampa Bay has 29 games remaining to make up ground on Boston and New York. The Rays face Boston seven times in September and have seven left against the Yankees.

“We just need to keep winning, keep winning series and hopefully we’ll be in good position come late September,” Damon said.

Adam Lind(notes) added a two-run homer as Toronto snapped a season-high four-game losing streak and overcame a two-homer night from Damon.

“We could have scored more runs because Romero was not on top of his game,” Maddon said. “This is a good day to get him and we let him off.”

Bautista tied Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson(notes) for the major league lead in homers with a solo drive in the sixth that hit off the facing of the third deck in left.

Romero (13-9) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. The left-hander, who walked four and struck out two, has not lost since July 16 against New York. The Blue Jays have won each of his eight starts since, and Romero is 6-0 with a 2.11 ERA in that span.

“He’s one of the better ones out there,” Damon said. “He can mix up his pitches very well. It just seemed like tonight his fastball wasn’t what it was when we faced him a couple of weeks ago. His offense picked him up.”

Romero allowed one hit, a homer by Jennings, in a 3-1 win at Tampa on Aug. 2.

“The thing that’s special about Ricky is his competitiveness,” bench coach Don Wakamatsu said. “Couple of big double plays to get him out of some jams, he just never gave in all night.”

Damon followed Jennings’ game-opening walk with a homer in the first, then added a leadoff shot in the fifth, his first multihomer game of the season and the 13th of his career. The homers were his 12th and 13th.

Lind came in 3 for 21 and grounded into an inning-ending double play in the first before turning his luck around with a two-run homer to right in the third. The drive, his 23rd of the season and first since Aug. 17, came after Bautista drove in a run with a groundout.

Lind finished 1 for 5 with two strikeouts and is batting .173 (9 for 52) over his past 13 games.

Toronto tacked on two more in the fourth against Rays right-hander Wade Davis(notes) (8-8), who is winless in five starts. Kelly Johnson(notes) singled and scored on J.P. Arencibia’s(notes) double before Yunel Escobar hit an RBI single.

The Blue Jays chased Davis in the fifth when Johnson tripled to right on a ball that skipped away from a diving Matt Joyce(notes) and Brett Lawrie(notes) walked. Brandon Gomes(notes) came on and gave up Arencibia’s RBI single.

Davis allowed six runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings, his second-shortest outing of the season. He walked three and struck out three.

“I just didn’t have good command of anything,” Davis said. “I had good stuff, didn’t have good command. It was kind of an uphill battle the whole game. It was frustrating to feel good and not be able to put the ball in good spots.”

Bautista capped it with his sixth-inning blast off J.P. Howell(notes).

The Rays lost a potential run in the third when Longoria tripled but got caught in a rundown on Zobrist’s grounder to the mound.

Longoria walked after Damon’s blast in the fifth but Zobrist grounded into a double play. Upton doubled to begin the sixth and went to third on a grounder before John Jaso(notes) walked to put runners at the corners, but Sean Rodriguez’s(notes) grounder to third went around the horn for an inning-ending double play.

Jennings hit a leadoff single against Jesse Litsch(notes) in the seventh and Damon followed with a walk, but Evan Longoria(notes) struck out and Ben Zobrist(notes) lined to Escobar for an inning-ending double play, with Jennings doubled off second base.

Casey Janssen(notes) worked the eighth and Frank Francisco(notes) finished for Toronto.

NOTES: Blue Jays manager John Farrell (pneumonia) will not accompany the team on a three-game series in Baltimore that begins Tuesday. Farrell left the dugout in the ninth inning of Thursday’s game suffering discomfort. Wakamatsu will continue to manage the team in Farrell’s absence … Toronto matched a season-high with four stolen bases. … Davis lasted a season-low 2 2-3 innings in a May 30 loss to Texas, allowing seven runs and 12 hits. … Toronto activated LHP Brian Tallet(notes) off the 15-day DL. It’s been about 10 weeks since Tallet hurt his right ribcage with a hard sneeze. … Blue Jays RHP Jon Rauch(notes) (appendectomy) will throw a simulated game at Baltimore on Tuesday and could be activated off the 15-day DL on Thursday.

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