St. Petersburg, FL – Yunel Escobar hit a solo home run and scored twice as the Toronto Blue Jays took a 6-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a three-game set.
Colby Rasmus had two hits and scored twice for the Blue Jays, who have won five of six. Kyle Drabek (4-4) gave up two runs on three hits with six walks and three strikeouts over six innings for the win.
"There were timely hits," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Yunel's home run was a big one. Colby swung the bat exceptionally well tonight."
B.J. Upton had a solo home run and Sean Rodriguez drove in the other for the Rays, who have lost four of their last five. Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) gave up five runs -- two earned -- on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings.
The first inning saw an unusual occurrence as Upton was awarded a home run that never left the field.
Upton hit a long fly ball to dead center that saw Rasmus trail back towards the warning track. The ball, though, hit off a crosswalk and dropped in front of Rasmus with Upton reaching second base.
The umpire crew discussed the play for several minutes before watching the video replay for several more minutes, which showed that the ball hit one of the catwalks and according to ground rules should be ruled a home run.
The Blue Jays got the run back in the second. Edwin Encarnacion singled to start the frame, but was then forced out at second on a J.P. Arencibia grounder that saw Will Rhymes throw the ball away and Arencibia wind up on second. Eric Thames then singled to score Arencibia, but was nailed at second base on the play.
Toronto took the lead in the third when Rasmus doubled, moved to third on a Jeff Mathis fly out and crossed home on a Kelly Johnson sac fly.
Tampa, though, tied the game in the bottom of the third. With one out, Matt Joyce walked and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Carlos Pena struck out, another wild pitch allowed Joyce to take third. Luke Scott then walked and Rodriguez singled to make it a 2-2 game.
The Blue Jays went back on top in the sixth on Escobar's homer to left-center for a 3-2 lead.
"That was a hanging changeup and Escobar hit it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He just got it up in his eyes and he hit it."
Toronto put the game away in the eighth. With two on and one out, Escobar hit a pitch back to the mound that Burke Badenhop misplayed as everyone was safe and the bases were loaded. Jose Bautista then hit a grounder to third that Rodriguez threw away, scoring two. Encarnacion then hit into a fielder's choice to plate another run for a 6-2 lead.
Hellickson, last year's AL Rookie of the Year winner, hadn't lost since August 30 and was the first ROY to go 4-0 the year after winning the award...Tampa had won four straight against Toronto this season...Tampa Bay left eight men on base...Drew Hutchinson pitches for Toronto on Tuesday while Matt Moore will take the mound for Tampa.