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Blue Jays recover after liner injures pitcher

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Pitcher R.A. Dickey called it "devastating." Maicer Izturis said the team was "in shock." Manager John Gibbons called it a "sickening sight."

The Toronto Blue Jays did not recover quickly from the sight of starting pitcher J.A. Happ lying near the mound at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night, bleeding from near his left ear after being hit in the head with a line drive by Desmond Jennings in the second inning.

"It took us a few innings to regroup," Toronto's Adam Lind said. "I think the energy in the dugout was very ... it was sad and we weren't really in the mood. I think that was obvious. Then we got some hits and got our minds off things that were and got our minds pointed in the right direction, and that's all it took. Once that happened, we started to run with it."

With little other information available after Happ was taken from the field on a stretcher, the Blue Jays bore down and eventually wore down the ragged Tampa Bay Rays bullpen for the second straight night, scoring twice in the ninth inning for a 6-4 win.

Izturis' ninth-inning home run off reliever Joel Peralta powered the decisive rally and Melky Cabrera (3 for 5) added an RBI double as the Blue Jays won three straight games for the first time this season. Toronto scored five runs in the final three innings.

How the Blue Jays remember the game likely will depend greatly on the health of Happ. The left-hander was taken off the field on a stretcher after crumbling to the ground clutching his temple -- he appeared to be bleeding from his left ear area -- as the ball rolled down the right-field line.

Catcher J.P. Arencibia began gesturing emphatically for help before the play was over, and medical personnel rushed to the mound as players -- some appearing emotional -- kneeled nearby. Jennings, who ran the bases clutching his helmet in dismay, stood on third base with his uniform shirt in his mouth, gazing at the scene.

"When you hear the sound off the bat and it sounds like it hits another bat, that's scary. It's really scary," Dickey said.

Happ was removed in a head brace on a stretcher after 11 minutes and appeared to be gesturing and speaking with paramedics. Gibbons refused comment on whether the play should have been stopped.

Trailing 4-1, the Blue Jays rallied to tie the score off relievers Jake McGee, Kyle Farnsworth and Peralta after starter Roberto Hernandez left after six innings. McGee slogged through another rough inning, allowing a two-run homer to Colby Rasmus.

The homer was Rasmus' second in two games this series and sixth of the season.

Toronto (13-21) tied the score in the eighth on consecutive doubles by Cabrera and Jose Bautista. Peralta (0-2) retired one batter in the ninth before Izturis -- who said he "got lucky" on a fastball -- hit his third homer of the season. He then surrendered a single to Brett Lawrie before Cabrera's double.

Rays manager Joe Maddon called another bullpen meltdown "one of those anomaly moments" and predicted his bullpen is "going to be one of the best bullpens in the American League."

The Rays (14-18) scored four times off Happ in a surreal second to take a 4-1 lead. The Jays threw out Sean Rodriguez on a squeeze attempt to save a run, but James Loney tied the score just after on a wild pitch. Two runs scored on Jennings' triple, which rolled toward the Rays bullpen after striking the pitcher. Ryan Roberts' single off reliever Brad Lincoln scored Jennings for a 4-1 lead. Happ was charged with all four earned runs on five hits in 1 1/3 innings.

Hernandez allowed one run and five hits in six innings. He left with a lead for just the second time in six starts.

Lind's first home run of the season pushed Toronto ahead 1-0 in the second.

Steve Delabar (3-1) picked up the win in relief and Casey Janssen posted his ninth save.

NOTES: Maddon was ejected by home plate umpire Marty Foster while arguing a putout of Rodriguez at home on a squeeze bunt in the second inning. Replays appeared to show Rodriguez grazing the plate as he avoided Arencibia's swipe, but the runner was called out when the catcher tagged him away from home plate. "My argument was just simply that I hit dirt in front of the plate and behind it," Rodriguez said of Foster's reasoning. "He said I hovered over the plate." ... The Rays are the only major league team to have their starters work at least five innings in every game this season. They are one of five teams since 1916 (as far back as records are available) to accomplish the feat in the first 32 games of a season. ... Tampa Bay right fielder Ben Zobrist returned to the lineup after missing two games following the death of his grandmother. ... Toronto has lost 17 consecutive road series against the Rays (16 at Tropicana Field, one at Disney's Wide World of Sports in 2008), which is the third longest in American League history. The St. Louis Browns lost 19 straight to the New York Yankees from 1946 to 1951 and 18 in a row to the Boston Red Sox from 1949 to 1953.
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