Blue Jays-Rays Preview

The Associated Press

The Toronto Blue Jays won't be playing in October and appear headed for a last-place finish in the AL East.

Still, they've done a nice job lately in the unwanted role of spoiler.

Toronto looks to record its first series win at Tropicana Field in over six years and a second straight against a playoff contender Sunday.

Sitting 15 games out of first place in mid-August wasn't where the Blue Jays (57-66) expected to be after adding Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Melky Cabrera in a very busy offseason. None of those acquisitions have provided the desired results, though, and Toronto ranks among baseball's most disappointing teams.

The Blue Jays closed their homestand with consecutive wins over division-leading Boston and rebounded with a 6-2 victory Saturday after dropping Friday's series opener 5-4.

Adam Lind hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Bautista added his 28th of the season to put Toronto in position for an extremely rare road series win against the Rays (69-52).

The Blue Jays haven't won a series at Tropicana Field since taking two of three April 6-8, 2007, information that was written on a message board in the team's clubhouse. They had lost 17 consecutive series there before splitting a four-game set May 6-9.

"Roy Halladay couldn't beat Tampa,'' Lind said. "Obviously we know how hard it is to come in here and not just winning a series, but winning a game.''

The homers by Lind and Bautista exceeded by two Toronto's entire output over the previous six games. Lind has three RBIs in this series after totaling one during a 16-game stretch.

Brett Lawrie went 2 for 4 and has hit safely in 18 of his last 19 contests, going 29 for 71 (.408).

Tampa Bay had its win streak snapped at three and dropped two games behind the Red Sox.

Evan Longoria is batting .370 with four homers and 13 RBIs in the season series after collecting two hits Saturday.

He'll try to continue that production Sunday in support of Chris Archer (6-5, 3.10 ERA), who hopes to recapture the form he displayed in July.

After going 4-0 with a 0.73 ERA in five July starts, the right-hander is 0-2 with 6.59 ERA in three outings this month. He had one of his worst starts of the season Tuesday in a 5-4 loss to Seattle, allowing five runs and a career-high nine hits over five-plus innings.

"Honestly, I'll take full responsibility for that loss, because if I execute a couple pitches in a couple of key situations, those are the games that we win,'' Archer said. "We score four runs, we win because we have good pitching.''

Archer was excellent in his only start against the Blue Jays, yielding one run and five hits in seven innings of a 4-3 victory at Rogers Centre on July 21.

He won't have to face Reyes, who will sit out a second consecutive game with soreness in his right knee.

Todd Redmond (1-1, 3.62) looks to build on a very effective outing for Toronto. Recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to face Boston on Tuesday in his first appearance for the Blue Jays since Aug. 2, Redmond tossed 5 1-3 scoreless innings before the Red Sox won 4-2 in 11.

The right-hander has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his six starts, walking nine and striking out 36 over 29 2-3 innings.

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