ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - One tough inning cost Kyle Drabek and the Toronto Blue Jays.
David Price allowed one unearned run while pitching into the ninth inning, Johnny Damon got his 2,600th career hit and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Blue Jays 3-1 on Thursday.
John Jaso had an RBI double, Damon drove in a run with an infield single and Matt Joyce hit a sacrifice fly off Drabek (2-2) to put the Rays ahead 3-0 in the third.
``When he got a couple of guys on, I thought he had a tendency to overthrow rather than continue to pitch,' Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. ``But I thought overall he did a much better job of commanding the strike zone even though the walks were there again today. I think today was a step in the right direction.'
The 23-year old Drabek allowed three runs, six hits, four walks and struck out three in 5 2-3 innings. The right-hander was coming off a start last Saturday when he gave up five earned runs in 2 1-3 innings against the New York Yankees.
``The last couple games haven't turned out like he had hoped,' Farrell said. ``He's a very bright prospect.'
Drabek had his start moved up one day to replace Ricky Romero, who was scratched due to a mild left oblique strain.
``I just missed a few pitches here and there, and that was it,' Drabek said.
Romero is scheduled to pitch Saturday against Detroit. The left-hander had a long-toss session and threw at 60 feet on flat ground.
Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, who missed his third straight games with neck spasms, continues to improve and remains on target to resume swinging a bat Friday. He could return to the lineup Sunday.
Price (4-3) is undefeated against the Blue Jays, winning eight times in nine starts. The left-hander allowed four hits and struck out 10 over 8 2-3 innings.
``Obviously he's had a lot of success against us, and again that was the case today,' Farrell said.
Damon had two hits, which moved him past Steve Garvey (2,599) into 75th place on the career list. His fifth-inning double (490) tied him for 59th place with Mickey Vernon on that list.
The Rays took two of three from the Blue Jays in winning their 12th consecutive home series over Toronto, dating to July 30-August 1, 2007. Tampa Bay has won eight of its last 11 overall.
Price was pulled by manager Joe Maddon with two outs and nobody on base in the ninth, which prompted booing from the hometown fans, after Corey Patterson hit an RBI grounder. John McDonald reached second to start the inning on a throwing error by shortstop Sean Rodriguez.
Maddon was concerned about Price's pitch count, which had reached 118.
Kyle Farnsworth got the final out after allowing a single to Yunel Escobar for his sixth save.
Adam Lind extended his hitting streak to 10-games with an infield single off Price during the seventh, but it wasn't enough to help Toronto avoid its fourth loss in five games.
Notes: The Blue Jays' first three hitters, Rajai Davis, Corey Patterson and Escobar were a combined 0 for 11 with six strikeouts against Price. ... Toronto 2B Aaron Hill (strained right hamstring) was sent to Class A Dunedin for a rehab assignment. ... Rays CF B.J. Upton, ejected after striking out in the ninth Wednesday, had not heard before the game about any punishments from MLB officials. He slammed his bat and helmet to the ground after being thrown out by umpire Chad Fairchild. ... Maddon, also thrown out Wednesday, said postgame there had been no contact yet with baseball officials regarding the ejections.
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