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

Climate change’s impact on outdoor hockey discussed in Red Deer

Red Deer River Watershed Alliance held a forum Friday at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

Collision between Red Deer transit bus and truck investigated by RCMP

No one on bus was hurt, truck driver had minor injuries

Eckville man facing about 80 child sexual exploitation charges in court

More than half a million photos and videos found on electronic devices

Good-bye ice and snow, hello potholes on Red Deer roads

City workers will be spending 20 hours a day on various road repairs

Red Deer woman wins $1 million in lottery

A Red Deer woman spent $5 on a lottery ticket and became… Continue reading

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Puddle splashing: A rite of spring

Is there anything more fun than driving through water-filled potholes in the… Continue reading

Special evaluations can help seniors cope with cancer care

Before she could start breast cancer treatment, Nancy Simpson had to walk… Continue reading

Home renovator Mike Holmes oversees reno for paralyzed Humboldt Broncos player

AIRDRIE, Alta. — One of Canada’s most recognizable home renovators has acted… Continue reading

The endless war against invasive species

Group looks to protect native ecological environments in Alberta

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Flyers, Blackhawks, Sabres and Lightning to Europe in ‘19-20

Jakub Voracek was psyched at the mere suggestion the Philadelphia Flyers might… Continue reading

Danish receiver Nielsen looking to defy the odds again, this time at CFL combine

TORONTO — He’s coming to the CFL’s national combine as a definite… Continue reading

Mom with kids on YouTube channel suspected of child abuse

MARICOPA, Ariz. — A woman who operated a popular YouTube channel featuring… Continue reading

Most Read