Burrell’s two-run homer lifts Rays over Jays

Tampa Bay 3 Toronto 1 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A struggling Pat Burrell hopes he’s on the verge of turning his season around.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marc Rzepczynski delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marc Rzepczynski delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday

Tampa Bay 3 Toronto 1

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A struggling Pat Burrell hopes he’s on the verge of turning his season around.

Mired in a 4-for-34 slump, the Tampa Bay slugger hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning Tuesday night, giving the Rays a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays and ending a four-game losing streak.

Burrell also thinks the walk-off shot into the left centre-field stands may be exactly what was needed to set up a productive second half of the season.

“We got a long way to go, and I haven’t been performing. It’s that simple,” said Burrell, who signed a US$16-million, two-year contract with Tampa Bay in January after spending nine years with the Philadelphia Phillies.

“As you go along in the season, you try to build on things,” added Burrell, who missed 29 games in May and June with a neck strain and is hitting .222 with four homers and 25 RBIs. “I’m hoping this is one of those times.”

The AL champions stopped a skid that included three losses to rookie pitchers, but hardly pulled out of an offensive funk — managing just two hits in six innings against Marc Rzepczynski in the 23-year-old lefty’s major league debut.

The Rays finished with four hits overall, two after the fourth inning, when Rzepczynski walked three, including Gabe Kapler with the bases loaded, to fall behind 1-0.

“He pitched a lot better I think than all of us felt he was going to pitch,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. “He will certainly get another chance.”

Toronto’s Scott Rolen tied it in the eighth with a run-scoring single that extended his career-best hitting streak to 24 games.

Burrell, who is 10-for-64 in 21 games since coming off the disabled list on June 11, hit his fourth homer of the season, connecting off Brandon League (1-4) with two outs. Dan Wheeler (3-1) pitched two scoreless innings to get the win for the Rays, who were outscored 25-7 during their losing streak.

Rzepczynski, 9-5 with a 2.69 earned-run average in 16 starts for double-A New Hampshire and triple-A Las Vegas, walked four and struck out seven in six innings. Shawn Camp was sharp in relief, too, working three scoreless innings before being replaced by League.

“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t pull it out,” Rzepczynski said.

The Rays loaded the bases in the fourth on Ben Zobrist’s single and two walks. Kapler fell behind Rzepcznski in the count 0-2 before drawing four straight balls to force in the first run of the game.

After allowing four hits over the first three innings, Tampa Bay starter James Shields seemed to get stronger as the night progressed.

The Rays right-hander set the Blue Jays down in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth and had retired 11 in a row when Vernon Wells singled off the back of his leg in the seventh for his second infield hit of the night.

Shields, who gave up one run and seven hits in seven-plus innings, worked out of jams with runners in scoring position in the second, third and seventh innings before Toronto finally broke through in the eighth.

Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill singled to end Shields’ night. Rolen’s single off Chad Bradford tied the game, and the Blue Jays threatened to take the lead when Wells singled to centre off Howell with two outs.

But B.J. Upton’s throw to the plate cut down Hill trying to score from second base to end the inning.

“Perfect throw,” Hill said. “What can you do? You tip your hat.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Jason Kenney struck back at unruly protesters who chanted ‘lock her up’ in relation to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Monday. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Alberta Premier calls for ‘unhinged conspiracy theorists’ to stop threatening the chief medical officer

Spreading misinformation, making threats is ‘beyond the pale,’ said Kenney

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Patient information breach at Red Deer hospital

3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Innisfail RCMP say Brandon Pitts is missing. (Photo contributed)
Missing central Alberta man

Innisfail RCMP request public’s help

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver as Liberal on Wednesday February 8, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon headed for minority government as two main parties in a tie

Liberals came into the election looking to build on their surprise 2016 majority win

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Letters
Letter: Leaders like MLA Jason Stephan should work towards greater good

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan talks about the devastating social and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Women, hit hardest by pandemic, key to economic recovery

Events of the past year have laid bare the many disparities and… Continue reading

Most Read