TORONTO -- Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney is not off to a strong start to the season.
He has three blown saves already in 12 chances. Last year he had two blown saves in 50 chances.
However, he came through Tuesday night with his ninth save, pitching 1 2/3 innings as the Rays hung on to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 before a crowd of 15,802 at Rogers Centre.
The Rays (24-21) and the Blue Jays (18-27) have split the first two games of the three-game series and are also even at 3-3 in their season series.
With one out in the eighth and the bases loaded, Rodney replaced Joel Peralta and used one pitch to J.P. Arencibia to induce an inning-ending double-play grounder.
Rodney allowed a run in the ninth to preserve the win for Alex Cobb (5-2), who allowed three hits and one run on a homer by Colby Rasmus in 6 1/3 innings.
Rodney came in after an error by second baseman Ryan Roberts, a defensive replacement, on a potential double play grounder loaded the bases.
"It's unusual to see Joel struggle in that moment, although he got the double-play ground ball, too." Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Fernando is a better option, I think, to get a grounder for a double play."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons did not take issue with Arencibia swinging at the first pitch.
"I've got no problem right there," Gibbons said. "The closer's coming in. He hit a strike, he hit it right at the guy."
Rodney allowed a run on a double by Rasmus, a groundout and a wild pitch.
"I don't think he's quite where he wants to be yet, but he's getting close, " Maddon said.
Toronto right-hander Ramon Ortiz (1-2) allowed six hits, one walk and four runs in 2 1/3 innings to take his second loss in three starts since being called up from Triple-A Buffalo.
"We were still in the game," Gibbons said, explaining his early hook. "Our bullpen shut them down and gave us a chance to win. We're strong and fresh out there. He didn't have it tonight. His command was off and it's something he needs. It was up, if it's down it's a different thing but it was up. But we had a chance, we had a chance late."
Cobb left with one out in the seventh after Brett Lawrie reached second base on a throwing error by third baseman Evan Longoria, who made a diving stop.
"The changeup wasn't as sharp as I'd like it but it was good enough to get a good amount of ground balls," Cobb said. "That's what was key to my success tonight. I kind of felt like it was my worst game, stuff-wise. When you have a quality outing without your best stuff, you're very pleased.
"That game was won by the defense. I felt like every time I turned around on a ball on the ground, it was a spectacular play."
Left-hander Jake McGee replaced Cobb and retired Rasmus on a pop foul and pinch hitter Mark DeRosa
on a strikeout, preserving Tampa Bay's 4-1 lead.
The Rays' third pitcher of the game, right-hander Joel Peralta, gave up a leadoff single to Munenori Kawasaki in the eighth and walked Melky Cabrera.
Jose Bautista drove in a run with a single to right, but Edwin Encarnacion struck out. Adam Lind hit what appeared to be a double-play ball, but Roberts' error loaded the bases with one out.
Rodney replaced Peralta and produced an inning-ending double play on his first pitch to Arencibia, who hit a grounder to second.
Rasmus doubled against Rodney with one out in the ninth and took third on a groundout by pinch hitter Maicer Izturis. Rasmus scored on a wild pitch on ball three to Kawasaki who walked, but Cabrera was called out on strikes to end the game.
Longoria extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games with a leadoff double in the second. He came around to score on a pair of groundouts.
Johnson hit his eighth homer of the season and the Rays led 2-0.
Jennings led off the third with his fifth homer of the season. Matt Joyce singled, was forced at second by Ben Zobrist, and Longoria singled to send Ortiz from the game. Left-hander Aaron Loup came in and induced a grounder to first baseman Encarnacion, who threw out Zobrist at home. Luke Scott singled to put the Rays up 4-0.
Rasmus' seventh homer of the season with two out in the fifth cut the lead to 4-1.
"It was a pretty stupid pitch on my part," Cobb said. "I was trying to get cute and throw a fastball in and just didn't get it in enough."
"I just swung hard and got a hold of one," Rasmus said.
"He's got that split that's pretty good. He spots up pretty well, all of his pitches have pretty good movement on it. That split, that's what it's for is to try to get ground balls and get you off his heater."
NOTES: Blue Jays RHP Josh Johnson (triceps inflammation) began his minor league rehabilitation assignment Monday by pitching three innings (three hits, one run, five strikeouts, 48 pitches) for Class-A Dunedin. He will pitch again there Saturday and could have one more start after that before returning to Toronto. ... Longoria has reached base in 44 of the Rays' 45 games. ... In the 31 games (beginning April 17) previous to Tuesday, the Rays led the majors with 176 runs scored (5.7 a game), a .281 batting average (tied with the Texas Rangers) and a .352 on-base percentage. ... Encarnacion has a seven-game hitting streak. ... LHP Mark Buehrle (1-3, 6.33 ERA) will start for the Blue Jays in Wednesday's series finale against Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson (2-2, 5.82 ERA).