St. Petersburg, FL – Carlos Pena may get used to this leadoff thing.
Pena, batting leadoff to start a game for the first time in his big-league career, finished 2-for-5 with a long three-run homer, as Tampa Bay downed Toronto, 8-5, in the middle contest of a three-game set.
"We talk about winning ugly, but in the end, they're all kind of beautiful, actually," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Matt Moore couldn't make it through five frames, leaving the Rays bullpen to pull extra duty. It responded with 4 1/3 solid frames, giving up just one run on four hits. Wade Davis (1-0) pitched two frames to pick up the win, while Fernando Rodney cruised through the ninth with a pair of strikeouts to record his 14th save.
Chris Gimenez drove in two runs and B.J. Upton hit a solo home run for the Rays, who snapped a two-game losing streak and improved their home record to an AL-best 16-7.
Jose Bautista drove in a pair of runs and Yan Gomes hit a solo home run for the Blue Jays, who have lost two of three. Drew Hutchison (3-2) took the loss, giving up six runs on seven hits over four frames.
"I just didn't make good pitches tonight," said Hutchison. "I wasn't executing quality pitches down in the zone. I just didn't give us a chance to win."
Luke Scott had just enough power on his long, high drive to left in the second, as the ball just landed over the yellow guard rail and jumped into the seats for his eighth home run of the season.
Tampa Bay left two runners on base in the third, but took advantage of its opportunity in the fourth. Scott was again in the middle of the foray with a leadoff double, and he scored on Drew Sutton's double to right. Sutton advanced to third on a wild pitch and came in to score on Gimenez's grounder to third. Elliot Johnson kept the momentum going with a single to left and Pena broke the game open with a titanic shot to dead center field that landed well over the fence for a 6-0 lead.
Staked to a six-run edge, Moore couldn't make it through the fifth frame. Rajai Davis stood at first with two outs and stole two bases around a walk to Kelly Johnson. Moore continued to struggle with his command, walking Yunel Escobar to load the bases before Bautista ripped a two-run single to left. Edwin Encarnacion then reached first on Sean Rodriguez's throwing error, allowing both Escobar and Bautista to score.
The Rays got one of those runs back in the home fifth on Gimenez's RBI single to left only to see Gomes hit his second home run of the year in the sixth. Tampa Bay, however, pushed the margin to 8-5 on Upton's solo home run to left in the sixth.
Moore and Hutchison faced their respective opponents for the first time...Pena's tape measure shot went an estimated 452 feet. He was in an 0- for-18 slide before the home run...Moore allowed four runs -- two earned -- on three hits with four walks and six strikeouts.