ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Evan Longoria snapped an eighth-inning tie with an RBI single, leading the Tampa Bay Rays past the Toronto Blue Jays 2-1 Wednesday night for David Price's club-record 16th victory.
Price (16-6) allowed a solo homer to John Buck, a double and two infield singles over eight innings. The 25-year-old left-hander walked two and struck out seven before Rafael Soriano worked out of a jam in the ninth for his major league-leading 40th save in 42 opportunities.
Tampa Bay remained a game behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East. New York beat Oakland 4-3 for its fifth straight victory.
Sean Rodriguez homered, tripled and singled off Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum. Rodriguez was denied a chance to go for the cycle when he was intentionally walked to load the bases after Longoria delivered his go-ahead hit off Scott Downs.
Ben Zobrist began the winning rally by drawing a one-out walk from Shawn Camp (4-3). Carl Crawford singled and Longoria, who has 17 RBIs in his past 18 games, hit a hard grounder between shortstop and third base to snap a 1-all tie.
The Blue Jays threatened in the ninth. Vernon Wells tripled with one out, but Soriano struck out Adam Lind and got Buck to fly out on the warning track in left field to end the game.
The victory gave Tampa Bay its 11th consecutive home series win over Toronto, when hasn't won a series at Tropicana Field since April 2007.
With rosters expanding Wednesday, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon tinkered with the lineup — inserting rookie Desmond Jennings in right field, starting catcher Dioner Navarro and using former Colorado Rockies All-Star Brad Hawpe as the designated hitter in his AL debut.
The trio went 1 for 7 with four strikeouts against Marcum, who walked B.J. Upton intentionally to load the bases with two outs in the fifth to face Jennings. The 23-year-old, one of baseball's top prospects, hit a dribbler that Marcum scrambled to field with his bare hand in front of the plate before flipping the ball to the catcher for a force out.
Price limited the Blue Jays to Mike McCoy's third-inning infield single until Buck hit his 15th homer leading off the fifth. Jose Bautista doubled over Jennings' head in right field with two outs in the sixth, but the Rays' starter escaped further damage when Vernon Wells flied out.
Marcum allowed one run and five hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
Hawpe, a 2009 All-Star who struggled this year before being released by Colorado, signed a minor league contract with Tampa Bay last week. He was 0 for 4 with four strikeouts, fanning three times with runners in scoring position.
Notes: Rays RHP Grant Balfour (ribs) was activated from the 15-day disabled list after pitching in a simulated game. ... Blue Jays 1B Lyle Overbay (left eye contusion) was out of the lineup for the fifth consecutive game, but could return this weekend. ... Toronto SS Yunel Escobar (stiff back) missed his fourth straight game and is not expected to play until Saturday. ... RHP Jeremy Hellickson, 3-0 in four starts over two stints in the majors last month, was recalled from Class-A Charlotte and will pitch out of the bullpen. ... The Blue Jays recalled C J.P. Arencibia from Triple-A Las Vegas and reinstated LHP David Purcey (right foot) from the 15-day disabled list. ... Maddon will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree from his alma mater, Lafayette College, on Thursday. ... Toronto LF Fred Lewis left in the sixth with a right elbow strain.