Toronto 3 Tampa Bay 1
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Ricky Romero made sure the Toronto Blue Jays finally had some success against David Price.
Romero allowed one hit over eight innings and Jose Bautista hit his 32nd homer of the season Tuesday as the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays and their all-star pitcher 3-1.
“It’s fun pitching against him,” Romero said. “We’re good friends. We have talked about it. It was definitely fun going out there to battle against him and I’m happy we came out in front.”
Romero (9-9), who didn’t allow a hit until Desmond Jennings started the sixth with a homer, struck out seven and walked four over eight innings. Jon Rauch allowed two-out singles in the ninth to Casey Kotchman and B.J. Upton before retiring Matt Joyce on a fly to left on a 3-0 pitch for his 10th save.
Price (9-10), who entered with eight wins and a no-decision in nine career starts against Toronto, gave up three runs and five hits in 6 2-3 inning.
The Rays have scored once while Price has been on the mound during his last three starts.
“Somebody’s going to go through that every year,” Price said. “These guys are trying. That’s part of it.”
Tampa Bay was one-hit by Seattle’s Michael Pineda in a 3-2 loss to the Mariners last Saturday. The Rays have lost 11 of 17.
Toronto, which is three games over .500 (56-53) for the first time since April 8, also got a homer from Yunel Escobar.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell said there was no thought given to having Romero going out for the ninth after throwing 109 pitches.
Bautista put the Blue Jays ahead 1-0 on his first homer in 15 games — snapping a drought of 46 at-bats without one — on a fourth-inning shot off Price. The Toronto slugger is 9-for-22 with four homers against the Rays left-hander.
“It was good to see Jose get a 2-0 fastball and do what he’s very much capable of doing,” Farrell said.
Tampa Bay had reliever J.P. Howell intentionally walked Bautista with no one on base and two outs in the eighth. Howell then retired Adam Lind on a grounder.
Escobar made it 2-0 on a homer in the sixth. Jennings, hitless in his previous 13 at-bats, got the Rays to 2-1 on his shot in the bottom of the inning.
Rajai Davis’ RBI double, which ended Price’s night, extended the Blue Jays advantage to 3-1 in the seventh.
Tampa Bay loaded the bases — on two walks and a hit batter — in the second, but didn’t score when Romero struck out Joyce and Kelly Shoppach before getting an inning-ending grounder from Sean Rodriguez.
“He had a tough first couple innings,” Farrell said.
“He created a jam in the second that he found a way to pitch out of it. He used his curveball really effectively against Joyce, against Shoppach to get a couple key strikeouts. He didn’t let the early frustration linger too long.”
The Rays have loaded the bases 11 times this season with no outs, and failed to score a run in six of those opportunities.
“To get the bases loaded early … that’s a great chance for us to get on top,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “Romero, if you don’t get him early, and he gets out of a couple of jams, or a jam, he normally sets in, which he did again. We have to do better. Bases loaded, we’ve been bad at that play and we’ve got to get better.”