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Jays' Happ has happy return to Tampa Bay

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Toronto Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ was excited about the prospect of getting back on the Tropicana Field mound Saturday night. It had nothing to do with the frightening scene that unfolded here on May 7. He just wanted to pitch well in a place he has struggled in the past.

Whatever his motivation was, Happ got the job done.

Happ (3-2) gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings as the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2, giving Happ his first win since April 12.

Adam Lind homered twice to support Happ in his third start since he was struck in the head by a line drive, an incident that resulted in a skull fracture and a badly sprained knee.

"I haven't pitched the best here and I was looking forward to having the opportunity to come and try to change that up a little bit and have a good game, keep us in the game, and I was happy that I was able to do that," said Happ, who spent three months on the disabled list after his last start here.

"History-wise here, I'm talking more about coming and trying to have a good game rather than this year with the incident."

Happ, who was 0-1 with a 12.71 ERA in two previous starts at Tropicana Field, started the game by retiring the first nine Rays he faced. His perfect game was broken up in the fourth when Jason Bourgeois reached on a bunt single. Happ's flip to first base was too late for the out, and he landed awkwardly on his kneecap, limping around the infield for a few minutes before shaking off the injury.

"Got a little nervous there," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You hope it didn't happen again."

The victory was the Blue Jays' third in their last four games and snapped a four-game skid against the Rays, who fell two games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.

Tampa Bay got another disappointing start from Roberto Hernandez and once again failed to provide him with enough run support. In Hernandez's 13 losses this year, Tampa Bay has scored a total of 17 runs with him in the game.

"We've really not supported him very well offensively. If we had scored more runs, we could be looking at something like (an) 8-11 (record)," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But it just seems like every time he pitches, he gets us out. We don't score for him."

Hernandez (6-13, 5.00) has not done much to help his own cause, either. His ERA climbed to 5.00 after he allowed five runs (four earned) in 5 2/3 innings.

"I want to win," Hernandez said. "Everybody knows that, but I can't control that."

Lind matched the Rays' offensive output on his own, starting the sixth with a solo homer to right-center field off Hernandez and then bashing another solo shot in the eighth off reliever Brandon Gomes. It was Lind's first multi-homer game of the season, the ninth of his career and Toronto's ninth multi-homer performance of the year.

"I had a good day," said Lind, who has homered off Hernandez in each of the right-hander's three starts against Toronto this year. "The season is so long. You have ups and downs, and you just have to fight through the bad times. I've gotten used to that."

Jose Bautista crushed a 1-2 slider from Hernandez deep into the left-field stands for a solo home run to open the scoring in the first inning, and Toronto tacked on two runs against Hernandez in the third before the Rays chipped away at the Blue Jays' lead by scoring two in the fourth.

That was all the Rays could muster offensively, however. The Blue Jays scored three consecutive runs, two of them on Lind's homers, to even the three-game series.

"We got three home runs tonight," Gibbons said. "So that usually works out pretty good for us."

NOTES: Blue Jays SS Jose Reyes was out of the starting lineup and won't play Sunday because of soreness in his right knee, but with three days of rest after Monday's off day, he hopes to return Tuesday. ... Tampa Bay CF Desmond Jennings is scheduled to play in a minor league rehabilitation game with high-Class A Charlotte on Sunday night. Jennings has been on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left middle finger since Aug. 6, retroactive to Aug. 4. If all goes well, Jennings is expected to be activated Monday. ... The Rays placed DH Luke Scott on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Thursday, because of lower back spasms. Scott is hitting .176 in August and just .111 in his last 15 games dating to July 22. ... With Scott out, Rays manager Joe Maddon has used OF Wil Myers in the DH spot in an effort to rest the 22-year-old rookie's legs for the stretch run. ... Tampa Bay activated Gomes (right lat strain) from the 60-day disabled list and moved RHP Jesse Crain (right shoulder strain) to the 60-day DL. Gomes missed the Rays' last 88 games. Crain is still expected to join the Tampa Bay bullpen in September. ... Toronto INF Munenori Kawasaki, on the paternity list after the birth of his son, is expected to rejoin the team on Tuesday.
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