Tampa Bay is two games behind Boston for the American League Wild Card lead and was able to salvage the finale of a four-game series in the Bronx with Thursday's 15-8 pounding of the New York Yankees. B.J. Upton, Johnny Damon and Ben Zobrist all homered and finished with three RBI for the Rays.
Upton and Zobrist had three hits apiece as well in the win, while starter Matt Moore struck out 11 batters over five scoreless innings for the win. Moore was making his first major league start and third career appearance.
"You've got to run the table, but you have to do it on a nightly basis," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "As you're trying to do that, if you hit a bump in the road you still have to stick with the math. The math still works. You cannot give up."
The Rays hold a slim one-game lead over the LA Angels of Anaheim in the race for the final playoff spot in the AL and will hand the ball to David Price tonight. Price is 0-1 in his past four starts with three consecutive no- decisions and is coming off Sunday's 8-5 win at Boston in which he last only four innings, allowing two runs and three hits. Price was hit by a line drive in the chest and had to leave the game early.
Price is 12-12 with a 3.36 ERA in 32 starts this season, but only 4-8 in 16 outings at home. The left-hander owns a 3-1 mark in four meetings with Toronto this season and is 9-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 11 career starts against the Jays.
Toronto split a four-game set with the Angels and recorded a 4-3 triumph in 12 innings on Thursday. Edwin Encarnacion was the hero by stroking a game-winning home run down the left-field line to lift Toronto, winners in five of eight games.
"A walk-off, I don't care what time of the year it is, it's always exciting," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Jose Bautista had three hits with an RBI and run scored while Eric Thames added two hits, including a home run for the Blue Jays, who are now 11-0 in extra-inning home games this season. Toronto rookie Henderson Alvarez threw seven solid innings, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out four. Shawn Camp picked up the win, working around a two-out walk to Peter Bourjos in the final frame.
Jays righty Brandon Morrow gets the nod tonight and he's 10-11 with a 4.98 earned run average in 28 starts this season. He was 0-4 in five trips to the rubber until beating the Yankees in Sunday's 3-0 decision, as Morrow allowed four hits with eight strikeouts over eight shutout innings.
Morrow is 3-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 11 career games (7 starts) against the Rays.
Tampa Bay is 10-5 against the Blue Jays this season. The Jays ended a five- game slide in the series with a 7-3 win on Aug. 29 at Rogers Centre.