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Rays 10, Blue Jays 4

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After making a habit early on this season of letting leads turn into losses, the Tampa Bay Rays (15-18) finally built up an early advantage and kept piling on, beating the Toronto Blue Jays (13-22) 10-4 on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.

The Rays led 7-0 on Monday and 4-1 on Tuesday but wound up losing both games as their bullpen couldn't hold down the Blue Jays' lineup late in either game. But Tampa Bay scored early against Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero (0-2, 12.46 ERA), got into Toronto's bullpen in the first inning and didn't let up even after establishing a comfortable lead.

Tampa Bay's Kelly Johnson and Evan Longoria each went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer, a double and a walk to lead the Rays' 13-hit offensive attack.

The Rays improved to 7-0 this season with lefty starter Matt Moore (6-0, 2.14 ERA) on the mound, though Wednesday wasn't Moore's sharpest outing. He allowed two runs but needed 104 pitches to get through five innings, forcing the Rays to turn to their shaky bullpen for 12 outs. And the relievers delivered. Jamey Wright gave up two runs in 1 2/3 innings and Cesar Ramos pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings to seal the win.

The victory was manager Joe Maddon's 600th with the Rays. He had to watch the final four innings from the clubhouse, however, as he was ejected by home-plate umpire Scott Barry for arguing a foul call in the top of the sixth inning.

Edwin Encarnacion's 10th homer of the season gave Romero a two-run lead against Moore, but Romero quickly let it go to waste, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks while recording only one out in the first inning. Romero allowed the first five Tampa Bay batters he faced to reach base before the Rays' first out, then gave up another RBI single to Luke Scott before leaving the game.

Wednesday was Romero's second big-league start of the season, as he was demoted to Class A Dunedin at the end of spring training to work on his mechanics. He surrendered three runs over four innings in his 2013 debut, but he couldn't take the next step forward Wednesday.

Reliever Edgar Gonzalez escaped a bases-loaded jam by recording two quick outs to end the first inning, but the Rays eventually got to him as well.

Tampa Bay tacked on another run in the second, when Johnson doubled and scored on Ben Zobrist's single to left field, and two more in the fourth on Longoria's eighth home run of the season.

NOTES: Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ, who was hit in the head by a line drive Tuesday night, was placed on the 15-day disabled list but did not know how long he will be sidelined. He was discharged from a local hospital early Wednesday and met with the media at Tropicana Field before the game. Happ said he has a fractured bone behind his ear, a head contusion and a left ear laceration but not a concussion. The greatest obstacle facing Happ might be his injured right knee, which he tweaked as he fell to the ground Tuesday night, although he was hoping it was just swollen. Happ will likely remain in the Tampa area until he's cleared to fly, but said he feels fortunate to be as healthy as he is after such a "scary" moment. "I'm not sure I'm completely in the clear, but it looks from everything -- the CT scans of the brain, neck and spine and everything -- it all looks pretty good," Happ said. "I don't think there's a ton of concern. Obviously if the symptoms change, I need to let them know." ... Desmond Jennings, whose liner hit the left side of Happ's face, went out of his way to talk to Happ in person and wished him well in his recovery. ... Maddon continued to express confidence in left-handed reliever Jake McGee, whose ERA climbed to 11.25 on Tuesday night, attributing his struggles to his confidence and not his ability. ... Tampa Bay became one of three teams since records are available to have its starters pitch five-plus innings in each of their first 33 games, joining the 1981 Pirates (first 45 games) and 1972 Dodgers (33).
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