Rays' Lobaton produces another walk-off win

The SportsXchange

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said he wants to see Tomas and Maria Lobaton in the stands for every Rays game.

That's because catcher Jose Lobaton sure seems to like playing in front of his parents.

With his mother and father at Tropicana Field to see him play for the first time in the United States, 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 crowd of 23,373 on Sunday afternoon.

"(We have to make them) season ticket-holders," Maddon said. "They have to be here more often. ... Pretty spectacular triple (on Friday) and then the home run today."

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 the series victory. 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.

"I'm happy for them. I would like to have my dad and my mom here all the time, but I can't do that," Lobaton said, smiling. "You run the bases like that and you know that you won the game. It was unbelievable, something that you want to do all the time. ... You want to feel that every day. Hopefully, this is not the last one."

Sunday was the Rays' third walk-off victory during this six-game homestand and their 10th this season. Lobaton was responsible for Friday's walk-off victory as well, when he lined a winning triple down the right-field line to score shortstop Yunel Escobar - for the 28-year-old's first walk-off hit in the majors.

Archer, meanwhile, 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 in seven innings, a 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 in 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.

Overall, though, Redmond said the outing was "very satisfying."

"With all of my friends and family there, I couldn't ask for anything more," said Redmond, who has allowed one run in 11 1/3 innings in his last two starts. "One bad pitch to Longoria, one of the best-hitting third basemen in the league right now. You do that and you pay the price."

Still, the Blue Jays couldn't break the Rays' hold over them or stop their woes away from Rogers Centre. Toronto is now 26-35 on the road, including a miserable 9-20 mark against American League East opponents. The Blue Jays' last series victory at Tampa Bay was April 6-8, 2007.

"They're a good team. They play to win," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "They've got one thing on their mind: winning. Everybody pitches in. Everybody's got their role."

The Rays chased Redmond with two singles in the seventh 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 Lobaton to strand Escobar.

It was Lobaton's third strikeout in as many at-bats. Fortunately for the Rays, the last one worked out quite a bit better.

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 on 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. "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 and 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. ... Tampa Bay has won 18 of its last 23 home games. ... Escobar doubled in the fifth, extending his hitting streak to a season-high-tying seven games. ... These two teams will meet again in Toronto to finish the season on Sept. 27-29.
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