TORONTO (AP) - The Tampa Bay Rays felt Ricky Romero was more fired up than usual. Turns out he was.
Romero pitched seven innings to win consecutive games for the first time this season, J.P. Arencibia hit a tiebreaking two-run homer, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Thursday night.
Romero and Arencibia dedicated the victory to a suburban Toronto boy who died of leukemia on Wednesday. The players met the child, 2 1/2-year-old Ryley James Martin, when his family visited the stadium on April 2.
Both players posted Twitter messages in memory of the youngster, and Romero used his finger to write James's initials in the dirt behind the mound before his first pitch.
``Every time I looked at the back of the mound I kept on looking at his initials,' Romero said, ``just remembering the time we were playing in front of that dugout, the smile he had. It's definitely something you carry with you forever.'
Arencibia kept the ball from the final out and got all his teammates to sign it. He plans to give the ball to the Martin family.
``It kills me because I have nieces and nephews and any time something like that happens, it's tough,' Arencibia said. ``I shed a few tears after that home run because it was for him, today's game was for him and I'm glad we were able to come out on top.'
Romero (4-4) allowed one run and three hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out six.
``He was throwing harder than the last time we saw him,' Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said.
Designated hitter Johnny Damon agreed.
``His fastball was acting like a slider today,' Damon said. ``There were some pitches that were borderline, before I got to two strikes, that I knew I couldn't hit them where they were. Then, when I took them, they ended up being way out of the strike zone. That's how much movement he had today. When he got to two strikes, he had us guessing everywhere.'
Romero pitched a season-high 8 2-3 shutout innings to beat Minnesota last Friday.
Juan Rivera went 2 for 3 with a solo homer as the Blue Jays won for the seventh time in eight games.
B.J. Upton and Kelly Shoppach had solo homers for the Rays, losers of four of six.
Rays right-hander Wade Davis (4-4) allowed three runs and seven hits in a season-high 7 2-3 innings to lose his second straight start after winning his four previous decisions. He walked four and struck out three.
Marc Rzepczynski gave up Shoppach's homer in the eighth and Frank Francisco finished in the ninth for his fifth save in six opportunities.
Toronto's Jose Bautista went 0 for 4 with a strikeout and failed to reach safely for just the second time in 35 games this season. Bautista had reached safely in 23 straight games, dating to April 17.
Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist also went 0 for 4, snapping his own streak of reaching safely in 23 straight games.
Rivera gave the Blue Jays an early lead with a solo homer in the second that bounced off the top of the wall, his third.
The Rays tied it in the fifth when Upton homered to left-center, his seventh.
Arencibia and Eric Thames hit back-to-back singles to put runners at first and second with one out in the fifth, but Rajai Davis hit into an inning-ending double play.
After Rivera drew a one-out walk in the seventh, Arencibia whacked Wade Davis's next pitch over the wall in center for his seventh home run.
``That was a slider, I just didn't get it down,' Davis said.
Wade Davis walked Thames and Rajai Davis but escaped further damage by striking out Jayson Nix and getting Yunel Escobar to ground out.
Shoppach cut the deficit to 3-2 with a solo homer to right off Rzepczynski in the eighth, his second.
Wade Davis left in the eighth after walking Aaron Hill and giving up a double to Rivera. Juan Cruz came on and got Arencibia to bounce back to the mound.
Dan Johnson started at first base for the Rays, but was replaced defensively by Casey Kotchman in the seventh. Johnson went 0 for 3, dropping his average to .115.
NOTES: Toronto OF Corey Patterson singled in the sixth, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Blue Jays 1B Adam Lind (back) is expected to miss at least another 10 days, manager John Farrell said. Lind was placed on the 15-day DL on May 16. ... Rays OF Sam Fuld got the day off, and is expected to skip Friday's game at Florida, Maddon said. Fuld is batting .212 (7 for 33) in his past eight games. ... Toronto INF Edwin Encarnacion, who made two errors Wednesday, got the night off.
The Associated Press News Service
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