TORONTO (AP) - David Price gave the Tampa Bay Rays a winning finish to a difficult road trip.
Price won for the fifth time in six starts, Sean Rodriguez homered and the Rays rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 Tuesday night.
After losing four of their first five games on an eight-game trip to New York, Baltimore and Toronto, the Rays ended it with three straight victories, persevering even as they placed two more players on the disabled list. Outfielder Desmond Jennings (left knee) and right-hander Jeff Niemann (fractured right leg) are the latest injury victims, leaving Tampa Bay with eight players on the DL.
We could have easily gone 1-7 on this road trip,' Price said. ``I feel like that was a pretty good road trip for us, especially with us dealing with the injuries that we're dealing with right now.'
Price, coming off a loss at the New York Yankees, continued his mastery of the Blue Jays. The left-hander is 11-2 with a 2.26 ERA in 14 career starts against Toronto, including a 5-0 mark in six starts north of the border.
Price (6-2) allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings, ending his outing by retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced. He struck out six with no walks.
``I thought he got better with the game in progress,' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ``Nothing had diminished by the end of the seventh inning.'
Joel Peralta worked the eighth and Rodney closed it out in the ninth to remain perfect in 11 save opportunities.
Price's performance was overshadowed by an ugly finish for Toronto, with Brett Lawrie slamming his helmet to the ground after he was ejected for arguing balls and strikes.
The helmet bounced up and struck home plate umpire Bill Miller on the right leg.
``That was not my intention at all,' Lawrie said. ``I've never, ever done anything to go at an umpire before in my life, and I didn't mean to tonight. I apologize for that.'
Upset at called strikes on back-to-back pitches, both of which he felt was ball four, Lawrie took several steps toward Miller, wound up with his right arm and threw down his helmet.
``Upon seeing that he was ejected, he took several steps toward me and fired his helmet. It hit me in the right hip,' Miller said. ``That's a bit extreme.'
Lawrie said he felt Miller made ``kind of a late call' on strike three.
Toronto manager John Farrell came out to restrain his 22-year-old third baseman, who's in his first full season in the majors. After Lawrie returned to the dugout, Farrell was ejected for arguing the call.
``The bat was taken completely out of Brett's hands, not only the 3-1 pitch but the 3-2 pitch as well,' Farrell said. ``Those are not strikes.'
Miller was then hit by a drink thrown by a fan as he headed off the field after the game. Police and stadium security were seen pointing into the crowd after that incident, and Miller shouted something at the fan before exiting the field. Miller said he has already filed his report about the incident.
Edwin Encarnacion homered for the Blue Jays, who made a season-high four errors. Toronto has lost three straight and seven of 10.
``We're in a stretch where we've not taken care of the baseball as cleanly as we have previously,' Farrell said.
Not all Toronto's defense was poor. Encarnacion fell into the seats to catch B.J. Upton's foul popup in the first, and left fielder Rajai Davis threw out Ben Zobrist at the plate to end the third with a strong one-hop throw to catcher Jeff Mathis.
Having helped keep the Rays off the scoreboard, Davis promptly helped put the Blue Jays on it, leading off the bottom half with an infield single, taking second on a throwing error by shortstop Elliot Johnson, stealing third and scoring on a two-out single by Jose Bautista. Encarnacion followed with a first-pitch homer to center, his 12th of the season.
The Rays got their comeback started in the fifth when Will Rhymes led off with a single and scored on Zobrist's two-out double, a ball that dropped in front of Toronto center fielder Colby Rasmus, who broke back on the play and couldn't recover.
Tampa Bay took the lead and chased Blue Jays starter Henderson Alvarez with a three-run seventh, taking advantage of two Toronto errors. Rodriguez led off with his third homer, a drive to center, and Rhymes followed with a single. Jose Molina hit a grounder to short, but both runners were safe when shortstop Yunel Escobar fumbled the ball. Johnson followed with a single to left that Davis dropped for the second error, allowing Rhymes to score without a throw. Zobrist singled off the glove of second baseman Kelly Johnson, loading the bases for Upton, who grounded into a double play that brought Molina home with the tiebreaking run.
That was it for Alvarez, with Darren Oliver coming on to strike out Matt Joyce, stranding Johnson at third.
Alvarez (3-3), who came in having won his past three starts, allowed four runs, two earned, and a career-high 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings. He had one strikeout and no walks.
NOTES: The Rays placed Niemann (fractured right leg) on the 15-day DL and recalled RHP Josh Lueke from Triple-A Durham. The 6-foot-9 Niemann is using a pair of crutches borrowed from the NBA's Toronto Raptors. ... Maddon said minor leaguers Alex Cobb and Chris Archer are candidates to start when Niemann's turn in the rotation comes up next for Saturday's game against Atlanta. ... Rays OF/DH Hideki Matsui played his first game at Triple-A Durham Tuesday night, batting fourth. He went hitless in four at_bats and struck out once.
The Associated Press News Service
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