J.A. Happ makes his return to Tropicana Field as the Toronto Blue Jays take on the Tampa Bays Rays in the second portion of a three-game set between the American League East rivals.
Happ will be making his third start since he suffered a skull fracture and knee sprain after being struck in the head by a line drive on May. 7 in Tampa Bay's ballpark. He was shaky in his return to action, but went a season-high seven innings and gave up just one run on three hits to take a no-decision versus Oakland on Monday.
The Blue Jays came up short in the series opener with the Rays as Jose Lobaton hit a game-winning triple in the bottom of the ninth to lift the hosts to a 5-4 win.
Anthony Gose knocked in two runs, while Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion each contributed two hits and an RBI for the Blue Jays, who have dropped six of their last nine overall.
Encarnacion is third in the majors in home runs with 30 and is also tied for fourth with 90 RBI. He is batting .368 during the span of his current five- game hitting streak. Jose Reyes ended a three-game streak of being held hitless on Friday. The star shortstop still has just one hit in his last 23 at-bats.
"Deserve? You go out and win that thing," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We had the lead, gave it up, had plenty of opportunities, couldn't get it done. Pretty simple. That's why they're at the top and we're at the bottom. It's pretty simple."
Toronto enters Saturday trailing the first place Red Sox by 15 games in the AL East race. The Rays are just a game behind Boston and are tied with Oakland atop the wild card standings.
The Rays looked like they were going to sink into a hole in the top of the ninth on Friday as Fernando Rodney allowed two hits. The 36-year old reliever regained his composure and sent the hosts into the bottom half of the inning tied, which set up Lobaton for the late-game heroics.
"There was no, 'Here we go again,'" Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I didn't feel that. It was more, 'Let's pick the guy up,' and that's what we did. I hope we continue to see the resiliency, the perseverance. Those are the kinds of things that take you to the promised land."
Matt Joyce homered and Sam Fuld also drove in a run for Tampa Bay as it picked up its third straight win following a six-game slide. Roberto Hernandez will get the start as the club looks to capture its fourth win in a row and catch the Red Sox in the standings.
Hernandez had been replaced before the fifth inning in his last two starts. He gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings against the Dodgers last Saturday in his most recent outing. The loss dropped him to 6-12 with a 4.95 ERA on the season.
Encarnacion is just 2-for-9 in his career against Hernandez. Reyes is hitless in four at-bats.
Tampa Bay is 9-5 against the Jays this season.