TORONTO - It looked good for the Tampa Bay Rays when they scored six runs in the first inning in their must-win game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
They stretched to lead to 7-0 in the fourth inning and then things took a dramatic turn as the Blue Jays started to chip away.
The Rays held on and eked out a 7-6 victory in their 162nd game of the season to stay alive for a postseason spot.
"It must be that way for us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Nothing ever comes easily for us here."
Maddon was ejected in the seventh inning, so he was not in the dugout was the Blue Jays scored two in the eighth inning to cut the lead to one.
"I was pacing," Maddon said. "It was not easy. I had different spots I was stopping in to get outs. One of them was the urinal."
The Rays entered the game tied with the Texas Rangers for the final American League wild-card spot and one game behind the Cleveland Indians, who occupied the first wild-card place.
The Rays (91-71) salvaged one win in their three-game series with the Blue Jays (74-88). The season was over for the Blue Jays, but the Rays had to await the outcome of the game between the Rangers and Los Angeles Angels to know where they play next.
"I get a lot of satisfaction from the way we finished up these last three days," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We played some good baseball, even today. We didn't see that coming, we gave up six in the first. But we hung in there. We made a run late and had a shot, so I'm pretty proud of that."
"We don't give up," Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes said. "They had to win today. We didn't want to give it to them."
Left-hander Matt Moore (17-4) held the Blue Jays to two hits for the first five innings but gave up four hits and three runs in the sixth inning. He walked three and struck out four in his 5 1/3 innings to earn his ninth win in his past 10 decisions.
Blue Jays starter Todd Redmond (4-3) allowed four hits, one walk and five runs in two-thirds of an inning.
Rays closer Fernando Rodney entered the game with two outs in the eighth with two Blue Jays on base and gave up run-scoring singles to Reyes and Anthony Gose. He walked Brett Lawrie to load the bases before striking out Moises Sierra.
Rodney pitched the ninth to earn his 37th save.
Wil Myers started the Rays' big first inning with a one-out double and he scored on James Loney's single. Evan Longoria hit an RBI double and he scored on a two-out single by Delmon Young. Matt Joyce walked and Neil Wagner replaced Redmond, giving up a two-run double to Lobaton and an RBI single to Yunel Escobar.
The Rays added a run in the fourth on a single by Escobar and a double by Myers.
"To be able to score six runs in the first inning is big in any game but that was a good way to start off," Myers said. "I've never been a part of anything like that. Emotions were going up and down the whole game. It was a fun game. It's definitely relieving knowing that we're going to play tomorrow."
The Blue Jays scored three runs in the sixth. Lawrie and Sierra singled and Mark DeRosa doubled them home.
Ryan Langerhans singled to put runners at the corners and left-hander Jake McGee replaced Moore. J.P. Arencibia hit a sacrifice fly to cut the Rays lead to 7-3.
Reyes singled, Gose walked and Lawrie doubled to cut the lead to 7-4 with one out in the seventh. Right-hander Joel Peralta replaced McGee and walked Sierra to load the bases. Maddon visited the mound and then was ejected when he started arguing with plate umpire Paul Schrieber.
"It was kind of predetermined," Maddon said. "I'd had enough, I'd had enough today. I walked out there and I told Joel and I told the infield, I said 'Listen, that's it. I'm out of this game, I know you guys are going to be fine. I'm going to watch the rest of this game with a glass of wine in my hand, and we're going to win it.'"
Pinch-hitter Adam Lind then hit a grounder to short that Escobar turned into a spectacular double play.
"That's the last thing you expect with Joel Peralta," Maddon said. "Joel Peralta is really a fly ball pitcher, a fly ball, strikeout pitcher, You don't expect Lind to hit a nice little fungo right at your shortstop. That was really nice."
NOTES: Blue Jays LHP Darren Oliver, who is retiring, received an ovation when he pitched a 1-2-3 seventh with two strikeouts. ... Rays CF Desmond Jennings (tight left hamstring) did not start for the seventh consecutive game. ... The Rays lost the opening two games of the series, the first time since Sept. 10-11 at Boston that they had dropped two games in a row. ... Redmond, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., was 3-0 with an ERA of 2.05 in eight previous games (seven starts) at Rogers Centre this season.