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Rays, Rodney hang on to complete sweep

The SportsXchange

TORONTO - Fernando Rodney made it interesting again on Sunday.

He allowed two runs in the ninth inning but squirmed out of the jam to record his 24th save of the season as the Tampa Bay Rays completed a three-game sweep with a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Rodney allowed a run in the ninth on Saturday as well and the Rays also hung on to win 4-3.

"A lot of fun today," Rodney said. "I calmed down and made good pitches, the best I have."

Rookie right-hander Chris Archer (5-3) pitched seven innings and Luke Scott snapped a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning with a two-run homer.

Scott extended his career-best hitting streak to 13 games with the homer against R.A. Dickey, and when the next batter, Kelly Johnson, homered the Rays had what proved to be a necessary three-run lead.

Evan Longoria also homered for the Rays in the fourth before a crowd of 41,247 at Rogers Centre.

"Like I said before, any time you lose it's tough," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Those two games we were a big hit away. Today was almost deja vu of yesterday. It was almost identical. They got the big third out when they had to get it."

The Rays (58-41) have won 13 of their past 14 games and 17 of 19 while the Blue Jays (45-52) have lost eight of their past 11 games.

"That's the game we had been losing earlier in the year," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Now we're winning that same game and that's why it looks so good."

But it got interesting. Rodney walked Josh Thole to start the ninth. Longoria, a usually adept fielding third baseman, made a wild throw to second on an attempted force play on Brett Lawrie's infield single. Thole reached third on the play.

Jose Reyes doubled in both runners to cut the lead to one. But Rodney collected himself and struck out Jose Bautista. Reyes took third on Edwin Encarnacion's groundout to third. Adam Lind walked and Rajai Davis ran for him and stole second. Melky Cabrera grounded out to third to end the game.

"That's the type of stuff he has, the type of resolve he has inside of him," Scott said of Rodney. "He doesn't give in, he doesn't let situations bother him. If you look at him, he's just the same. He doesn't get rattled, he doesn't get panicky. He's just calm. That type of composure in those situations is the best weapon to have."

Archer held the Blue Jays to five hits, four walks and one run to win his third consecutive start. Jamey Wright took over in the eighth.

Dickey (8-11) allowed four runs and seven hits, including

three home runs, while striking out eight in six innings.

The Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead in the second on a ground-rule double by Thole

with two out. It followed one-out singles by Cabrera and Colby Rasmus.

Longoria tied it in the fourth with his 20th homer of the season, a drive that

carried over the right-field wall.

The Rays caught up to Dickey in the sixth when they scored three runs on two home runs. James Loney singled and Scott hit his ninth homer of the season on a 3-2 pitch. Johnson hit his 15th homer of the season on the next pitch.

Scott came to bat in the sixth 0-for-12 in his career against Dickey

"He had been 0 for his life against Dickey up to that moment," Maddon said. "I had been talking to him, I was doing a lot of little massaging in the corner there before he went out to hit, just trying to build his confidence up because I know Dickey kind of had his number. If you keep on swinging, good things can happen."

"I can take the solo home runs, it's just the multi-run home run that's been really haunting this year," Dickey said. "But got to try and take some positives out of today's outing, felt real good, had a good knuckleball, a lot of swings and misses. Just going to try and build off of the momentum the last month or so."

NOTES: Former Blue Jay 1B Carlos Delgado was honored in a pregame ceremony as he was added to the club's Level of Excellence. ... Cabrera returned from the disabled list for Sunday's game and RHP Neil Wagner was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. ... Loney returned from the paternity list after his wife gave birth to a son, and INF Ryan Roberts was returned to Triple-A Durham. ...Rays SS Yunel Escobar (strained hamstring) missed his third straight game but is expected to return during the four-game series at Boston. ... RHP Josh Johnson (1-5, 5.16 ERA) will start Monday's opener of a three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers against LHP Hyun-Jim Ryu (7-3, 3.09 ERA). ... LHP Matt Moore (13-3, 3.44 ERA) will start for the Rays against RHP Brandon Workman (0-0, 5.40 ERA) in the opener of a four-game series against the Red Sox at Boston on Monday.
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