(Tuesday, August 7th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 4, Toronto 1
St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - James Shields pitched eight solid frames and Tampa Bay welcomed back star third baseman Evan Longoria with a 4-1 victory over Toronto to open a three-game set.
Longoria returned from a lengthy hiatus after suffering a partially torn hamstring on April 30 with the mounting pressure of boasting a stagnant offense in the throes of a 21-inning scoreless streak. He was the designated hitter and batted clean-up, and finished 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly.
Shields (10-7) surrendered just one run on two hits with six strikeouts and one walk. Fernando Rodney struggled with his command at times, but escaped the ninth unscathed to post his 33rd save. In the process, Rodney extended his scoreless-inning streak to 22, a new franchise record for a relief pitcher.
"The guys had a little different spark today," Shields said. "I don't know if it's because Longo is back. We swung the bats well today and made some good contact early on."
Desmond Jennings had two hits and scored twice for the Rays, who snapped a two-game slide.
J.A. Happ (0-1), making his first start as a Blue Jay after four relief appearances, surrendered four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk over 4 1/3 frames. Colby Rasmus homered for Toronto, which saw a brief two-game winning streak come to an end. They've lost seven of their last nine games.
The Rays struck first in the second with Ryan Roberts' two-out double followed by Sean Rodriguez's looping run-scoring single to right. They added two more in the third, kicking off the frame with Jennings' single and B.J. Upton's ground-rule double that hopped over the wall down the right-field line.
After a walk to Ben Zobrist, Longoria got into the action with a sacrifice fly to right. Jeff Keppinger followed suit with one to left for a 3-0 lead after three frames.
The Blue Jays got one of the runs back on Rasmus' shot to right in the fourth, but Tampa Bay again amassed a three-run cushion in the fifth when Jennings doubled to left and scored on Zobrist's two-bagger to right.
Shields took over from there. He didn't give up a hit after Rasmus' blast and allowed just two baserunners, one via walk and the other hit by a pitch.
Longoria was activated from the 60-day disabled list as infielder Will Rhymes was optioned to Triple-A Durham and infielder Brooks Conrad was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster...Shields improved to 10-5 lifetime against Toronto...The Rays have won seven of nine meetings with the Blue Jays this season...Rasmus' homer was his 20th of the season. He also has 66 runs batted in.
08/08 01:32:50 ET