All-star delivery

Ben Zobrist keeps proving his worth to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay Ray Carl Crawford steals second base on Toronto Blue Jay Aaron Hill in the ninth inning to set up the winning run Wednesday

Rays 10 Blue Jays 9

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ben Zobrist keeps proving his worth to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The first-time all-star, one of the biggest surprises in baseball this season, drove in four runs with a homer and tie-breaking ninth-inning single that gave the AL champions a 10-9 victory over slumping Toronto on Wednesday night.

The Rays dropped their division rival in dramatic fashion for the second straight night. Pat Burrell homered in the 11th inning in the series opener to beat the Blue Jays, who have lost nine of 11.

“The last two games have been great for us. They’re big because they’re games we’re going to need to win the AL East,” Zobrist said. “That’s our goal, and we’re going to keep pushing for that.”

Zobrist, a utility player who started at six positions before settling in as the regular second baseman in place of the injured Akinori Iwamura, is batting .289 with 17 homers and 50 RBIs.

He homered off Blue Jays starter Brian Tallet in the fourth inning. His winning hit off Scott Downs with two outs drove in Carl Crawford, who singled off Jason Frasor (5-2) before stealing second and third.

“We scored some runs,” Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. “We just didn’t hold them.”

B.J. Upton stole home in the first inning and had an RBI single in the second for the Rays, who built two three-run leads that Scott Kazmir and Tampa Bay’s bullpen couldn’t hold.

Toronto wiped out deficits of 5-2 and 9-6 before wasting an opportunity to go ahead when it stranded two runners in the eighth.

J.P. Howell (5-2) pitched the ninth to get the victory.

Scott Rolen had three hits and drove in a run, extending his career-best hitting streak to 25 games for Toronto, which fell to .500 (43-43) for the first time this year.

Kazmir, still looking for his first win in two months, allowed seven runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings. The Blue Jays scored two runs charged to reliever Grant Balfour to make it 9-9 in the seventh.

“It felt like I pitched way better than that,” said Kazmir, who hasn’t won since beating Boston on May 9. “It seems like I haven’t gotten one break the whole year. I’m due.”

In his third start since ending a five-week stay on the disabled list with a right quad strain, Kazmir allowed solo homers to Adam Lind and Vernon Wells before giving up three runs in the fourth to blow a 5-2 lead.

Rolen doubled, Wells reached on an infield single and Kevin Millar walked to load the bases with no outs in the Toronto fourth.

Alex Rios drove in a run on a forceout at second, and the Blue Jays made it 5-5 when Marco Scutaro singled off first baseman Carlos Pena’s glove to drive in two more runs.

Toronto’s momentum was short-lived.

Three batters later, Tallet gave up Zobrist’s 17th homer and departed after yielding eight runs and 11 hits in three-plus innings, his shortest start of the year.

“I don’t know who was pitching worse. Him or the kid across the way,” Gaston said of Tallet and Kazmir. “It was kind of a race, who’s going to get run out of there first.”

Trailing 9-6 entering the seventh, Aaron Hill doubled for the final hit off Kazmir, then scored on Rolen’s single off Balfour. After Millar doubled to drive in the second run of the inning, Rios singled to make it 9-9.

Just Posted

Cannabis legalization won’t impact one Red Deer pot dispensary

Nothing changes for Compass Cannabis Clinic in Red Deer despite legalization

Cannabis retail store will open later in October in Red Deer

Two cannabis stores coming to downtown Red Deer

Neighbours drop opposition to Red Deer County communications tower

Communication tower to be located in Balmoral Heights

Legal cannabis comes with many unknowns: Red Deer County councillors

Councillors question how rural municipalities will be able to enforce cannabis regulations

Kitten season puts pressure on Red Deer shelter

More public education needed to control cat population

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

‘Start low, go slow’: Experts walk bud beginners through cannabis 101

With the countdown to cannabis legalization Wednesday ticking towards 4-20, some novice… Continue reading

NHL stays with status quo as Canada pot legalization looms

As Riley Cote took and delivered countless punches over more than a… Continue reading

Paul Stanley: Kiss farewell tour could include ex-members

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — It won’t be all night, but former members… Continue reading

Judge tosses Stormy Daniels’ defamation suit against Trump

WASHINGTON — A federal judge dismissed Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President… Continue reading

Canada open to growing trade with China now that USMCA is a done deal: PM

TORONTO — Canada is open to doing more business with China now… Continue reading

Pot shop raids “highly unlikely” on Wednesday: head of police chiefs

VANCOUVER — Police departments across Canada are fully prepared for marijuana legalization… Continue reading

Campers will be able to smoke cannabis at campsites in Canada’s national parks

Parks Canada says visitors should do their research on cannabis before going… Continue reading

U.S. pot firms urge Trump to deny Canadian producers’ ‘competitive advantage’

WASHINGTON — An American cannabis producer is warning President Donald Trump that… Continue reading

Most Read