ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jose Lobaton
blasted the first walk-off home run of his career and his second walk-off hit in three days, leading the Rays to a 2-1 win over the Blue Jays before a home crowd of 23,373 on Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay hasn't dropped a series to Toronto at Tropicana Field since April 2007, back when the team was known as the Devil Rays. The Rays can thank starter Chris Archer
and Lobaton for this series victory, as Archer turned in his best start since July and Lobaton snapped a 1-1 tie in the 10th inning with a solo shot to right field off Blue Jays reliever Brad Lincoln.
Sunday was the Rays' third walk-off victory during this six-game homestand and their 10th overall this season. Lobaton was responsible for Friday's walk-off victory as well, as he lined a game-winning triple down the right-field line to score shortstop Yunel Escobar
. Tampa Bay has won 18 of its last 23 home games.
Archer looked a lot more like the guy who was named American League Pitcher of the Month in July. The 24-year-old right-hander was perfect after three innings and allowed only one run over seven innings, a game-tying solo shot by Edwin Encarnacion in the seventh.
Archer scattered four hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out five, a return to form after going 0-2 with a 6.59 ERA in his first three August starts. The rookie was 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA in July, when the Rays won each of his five outings.
Toronto's Todd Redmond, meanwhile, nearly matched Archer while making his first start in his hometown. The St. Petersburg native allowed six hits and struck out four over six innings. The Rays' only run against Redmond came in the first inning, when Evan Longoria blasted a 1-0 pitch just over the right-field fence for an opposite-field homer. After a review to determine whether the ball cleared the wall without fan interference, the call was upheld to give Longoria his 24th home run of the season.
The Rays chased Redmond with two singles in the seventh inning but squandered a chance to take the lead. With Sean Rodriguez at third base and Escobar at first, pinch-hitter Jason Bourgeois failed to execute a squeeze bunt, resulting in Rodriguez being caught stealing between third and home. Escobar wound up advancing to third when Bourgeois grounded out, but Toronto reliever Brett Cecil struck out Jose Lobaton to strand Escobar.
NOTES: Rays LHP Matt Moore (left elbow soreness) played catch with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield on Sunday morning and said it "went exactly like I wanted it to." Moore, a 2013 All-Star, has not pitched in a game since July 28. Sunday was the first time he had thrown in four days, as he felt some soreness in his elbow after a bullpen session Wednesday. Moore will attempt to throw every day until he is ready to get back on the mound for another side session. ... Rays RHP Alex Cobb and Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ, both struck in the head by line drives at Tropicana Field this season, discussed their shared experience with the media Sunday. "We're going to be linked with this, probably forever," Happ said. Cobb agreed, "There is definitely a bond that has formed between us." Both stressed that they would like to see some sort of protective headgear introduced for pitchers to use, if they chose to do so. Cobb was sidelined exactly two months by a concussion, while Happ missed three months with a skull fracture and a badly sprained knee. Both won their first start back at Tropicana Field, with Cobb beating the Mariners on Thursday and Happ beating the Rays on Saturday. "It's nice to see that we're both back at it," Happ said. ... These two teams will meet again in Toronto to finish the season on Sept. 27-29.
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