St. Petersburg, FL – Jose Lobaton's triple in the bottom of the ninth chased home Yunel Escobar with the winning run as Tampa Bay clipped Toronto, 5-4, in the opener of a three-game series.
Aaron Loup (4-6) fanned pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez to start the frame, but walked Escobar and served up the winning smash to Lobaton, who sliced the ball just inside the foul line in right that allowed Escobar to score easily.
"That was the best feeling I've ever had in my life in baseball. I wasn't expecting that. Thank God that actually happened," Lobaton gushed after his first career walk-off hit.
Fernando Rodney (5-3) gave up two hits in the top of the ninth, but managed to keep the Blue Jays off the board.
Lobaton finished 3-for-4 with two RBI for the Rays, who have won three in a row following a six-game losing streak.
Matt Joyce homered and Sam Fuld also drove in a run for Tampa, which got back within a game of first-place Boston in the AL East, after the Red Sox were routed by the Yankees.
Anthony Gose knocked in two runs, while Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion each contributed two hits and an RBI for the Jays, who have dropped six of their last nine overall.
"Had plenty of opportunities, couldn't get it done. That's why they're at the top and we're at the bottom. It's pretty simple," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Toronto took the lead in the first, as Maicer Izturis was plunked, moved to second on an Encarnacion base hit and scored on a Lind single.
Escobar tripled to start the home third and scored when Lobaton followed with a single for a 1-1 game.
The Jays went up 2-1 in the fifth as Jose Reyes singled with one down, moved up on a Jose Bautista walk and scored on an Encarnacion base hit. It was a 3-1 game in the sixth as Josh Thole tripled off the wall in right and scored two batters later on a Gose single.
A one-out solo homer from Joyce pulled the Rays within a run in the home sixth, then the hosts moved ahead in the next frame thanks to an Escobar groundout and two-out hit by Fuld.
The game was tied once more in the eighth. Brett Lawrie singled and Thole walked to start the frame, both were sacrificed into scoring position, and Lawrie scored when Escobar's throw home from short on a Gose grounder was late.
In the top of the ninth, Izturis reached with an infield single and Bautista lined one into left. But Rodney rebounded to retire the final three batters to keep it a 4-4 deadlock.
Lobaton became the first catcher to hit a game-ending triple since Ryan Doumit of the Minnesota Twins on June 1, sealing a 5-4 home win against Seattle with a two-run extra-base hit ... Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson allowed three runs on nine hits over six innings, while Jays counterpart R.A. Dickey worked seven innings and gave up six hits and four runs ... Prior to the game, the Jays reinstated pitcher J.A. Happ from the bereavement list, placed shortstop Munenori Kawasaki on the paternity list, optioned pitcher Mickey Storey to Triple-A Buffalo and recalled Gose from Buffalo.